Since the start of the Lebanese anti-government protests on the 17th of October 2019, Lebanese expats worldwide have been actively protesting in Solidarity with their fellow Lebanese in Lebanon and raising funds to support the protesters and the peaceful revolution.
While many transparent and honest fundraising events have been successfully conducted by Lebanese all over the globe, there have been a lot of question marks about others and, recently, about the one that was organized by two Lebanese, E. J. and N. H, in Montreal – Canada, under the name “Party 4 Lebanon.”
The “Party 4 Lebanon” ad was posted by one of the organizers, over 2 weeks ago, on Reddit (a discussion website). As the image explains, the event is related to the Lebanese Revolution, “The Revolution is Lit”, and the party meant to be a fundraiser for Lebanon and “all the proceeds will be donated to various charities in Lebanon.”
However, this fundraiser didn’t seem accurate nor professional enough, and have raised so many questions among the community in Montreal, for many reasons:
No online presence: There was no FB event page, no website, no proper explanation about the event.
No post by the club (LECINQ) mentioning that it is hosting that event on their website, with a post on Facebook appearing just days before.
No ticketing system: The organizers were literally having people send money to them via e-transfer, which is a Canadian way of transferring money from one account directly into another by email/phone number and the money goes straight into a bank account. And since we couldn’t confirm any company/NGO was involved, we can assume it was deposited into personal bank accounts.
No explanation on the cost: There was no explanation anywhere of what the $20 entry fee covers and includes; (what about tables/booths booked, alcohol bought, etc. Does the club keep it, do the organizers keep it, is it donated? etc).
Twisting truths: The organizers kept changing their story (on Reddit) on where the money was going: First, they stated that it was for two people helping in Lebanon, then it was to raise awareness in Montreal about it, then it was for “various charities” and then, in the last promo video, they said “all proceeds will help a person who is in need and being refused care.”
Refusing to clarify when asked: They were asked to give clarification about the event, about where the money is going, and about which charities exactly they intend to donate to, but instead of answering they deleted the post, refusing to clarify. When given the option to donate it to The961 Foundation to help give them some validation, they seemed open to asking for contact info but then went silent ever since. People just wanted a charity to be named so it can be confirmed by the charity/NGO that money was donated.
Comments on Reddit and on Imgur denoted that some people felt confused and unsettled about this fundraising party and they commented asking for a clear explanation at no avail.
The961 founder Anthony Kantara, who has recently launched a legally registered Canadian NGO with the mission of supporting the Lebanese people on the streets and a GoFundMe for the family of the martyr Alaa Abou Fakher, asked one of the organizers to update the community on where that money went but the organizer got defensive and tried deflecting, answering in a written comment:
During that initial exchange with in the Lebanon sub on Reddit, the organizers stated, as shown in the screenshot below, that “a minimum of $6k will be collected. 100 tickets already sold in 24 hours.” That’s $2,000 they collected at the start, “in 24 hours,” according to them.
We received many supporting messages from people who agreed on what we’ve previously listed of reasons why this particular event seems shady overall, including statements like “no online presence for the event and no ticketing service is hella shady. That and the no naming of any charity organization.” And so on.
Online fundraising has been increasing in the past month to help the Lebanese revolution. In this regard, we call everyone to be cautious and aware when it comes to donating online, taking into consideration many factors, including its legality, and how open, honest, respectful, and accountable the fundraising is.
The fundraising practice is regulated by rules and code of practices that the fundraisers should know even before proceeding with their fundraising events.
When any of these organizers fail to explain their activities accurately and adequately, they may mislead donors, and raise many question marks about their activity and that’s exactly what happened with the “Party 4 Lebanon” fundraising event.
So far, this is what we know: The organizers Eyad Jamaleddine and Nader Harmouch claimed to have raised $2000 at the very start and anticipated to raise $6000. Beyond that, no one knows anything else. We reached out, before publishing this, one last time for an explanation/clarification to give the benefit of the doubt.. but got no response.
Update – November 25th, 2019: One of the organizers, Nader, reached out demanding the article be retracted or they will take legal action against us. No information/documentation has been provided to clarify any of the above info, including where the money is.