I found on rising this morning that half a dozen people had sent me the news that Conejo Valley Friendship Circle had been removed from the Pacific page of the charity rankings on Vivint Gives Back. There are now only 19 charities listed.
At 9:40 a.m., I was still able to get to Conejo’s voting page. A couple hours later, that was gone and the link now redirects to the Vivint Gives Back rankings (it seems to send me to a different region at random). The facebook event page reminding people to vote for CVFC appears to have been removed as well. And Vivint has commented on this picture Jane Clout posted on their facebook wall, saying, “[W]e have taken action against any such practice from charaties [sic] participating in Vivint Gives Back. Of course we want the votes to be fair. Thank you for your great concern in the matter.”
So I think that means they’re well and truly disqualified.
Vivint had assured us that they took allegations of vote compensation seriously, but despite those assurances, until I got the news, I can’t say I truly believed that Conejo would be removed from the contest. After all, we sent as much if not more evidence in during Chase Community Giving, Chase assured us they took the matter seriously, and they did absolutely nothing.
I’m happy to see Vivint handle this differently.
However, I’m sorry that the kids served by Conejo Valley Friendship Circle have now been shut out of receiving any financial or awareness benefit here because of the actions of adults involved with the organization. I think Friendship Circle does great work, and I believe they could have competed well based on that work by the same methods other charities are – reaching out to friends and family, building networks, explaining the importance of a cause. That’s the real benefit here – broadening awareness for something that’s personally important to each of us.
I also would have been satisfied to see Conejo docked votes, if it could be determined how many were obtained illegitimately. But I’m sure that would have been difficult, and we would have had to have trusted Vivint and Conejo to decide how many of their votes were compensated. This, on the other hand, is a sure remedy.
If the basis for this sort of competition is who can spend the most on votes but pay less than the actual prize money – that’s not a charity contest, it’s some combination of gambling, cheating, and a business proposition.
And I’m glad to see Vivint, pretty much alone among online charity contests, recognize that. Major kudos and my sincere thanks to them.
Those of us who have been looking at the data behind the scenes are going to continue to do so. If anything suspicious pops up, we’ll let you know.