Your work is vital. We are raising funds to support it.
On August 4, 2017,my nonprofit, the Giraffe Heroes Project (GHP) signed a binding licensing agreement with Metasoft Systems, a Canadian company. For the sum of $8,995 the GHP would gain access for five years to a sophisticated database of philanthropic foundations created and maintained by Metasoft.
A key Metasoft selling point was their offer of a “risk-free” money-back guarantee: if a nonprofit bought access to the company’s database of foundations, and that nonprofit did not get foundation grants at least equal to the cost of its purchase price within six months, then its money would be refunded in full. How could you possibly lose?
Very easily, as the GHP learned. After six months of diligently using Metasoft’s database we had not raised a dime. So we notified Metasoft that we wished to exercise our rights under their “risk-free” money-back guarantee. That’s when the problems started. Even though Metasoft never contested that the GHP had met every criteria for securing that guarantee reimbursement, they did not send us our money back. Instead, they first went silent, answering no emails or calls for two months. When we started to complain, Metasoft began making a series of excuses for not sending us our check. First it was “end of the month chaos” responsible for the delays. Then they said that our check has been presented to the CEO, Trevor Skillen, for signature but it never seemed to get off his desk. Finally were told that the check had been sent but could be delayed for ”3 to 4 weeks” because of ”customs.”
By this point we had had enough and our trust in Metasoft had evaporated. What would be next? That the check was lost in the mail? So we filed a complaint with British Columbia’s consumer protection agency and also contracted with a pro bonolawyer in Vancouver. These moves had the desired effect and we finally got our money back—after over four months of struggle. We’re convinced that had we not put up the fight we did we would never have seen a check.
From everything we learned from talking to Metasoft insiders, the problem flows not from the staff, who seemed decent enough, but from CEO Trevor Skillen, who reserves all reimbursement decisions to himself.
Our word of warning to nonprofits: if you sign up with Metasoft to use their foundation database, be prepared that, if it does not work for you, you will have to fight like heck to get Metasoft to honor its guarantee. Getting our money back was a nightmare.
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