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Google Checkout option is gone

Date: April 30, 2007

I received an email from Google Checkout. Below is an excerpt from the email:

During a recent review, we found that your website accepts donations. In accordance with Google Checkout policies, you may only use Google Checkout to process donations if your business has a legitimate tax exempt status and displays this status publicly. It appears that your business doesn’t have a legitimate tax exempt status. As a result, your pending donation orders have been cancelled.

Sure enough, Google’s list of items prohibited includes “Donation solicitations from parties without a valid 501(c)(3) tax exempt status clearly displayed to the public,” along with other things, most of which are either illegal or regulated.

I’m assuming that the concern for Google is that individuals and organizations would use Google Checkout to solicit donations fraudulently for personal gain. But I don’t agree that 501(c)(3) status is the only legitimate way to run social justice projects. In my involvement with many 501(c)(3) non-profits, I’ve come to realize that it tends to create ineffectual bureaucracy, and take away resources from smaller, more radical activist projects. Once dominated by larger 501(c)(3) groups with highly paid professionals as executives, their goal changes from creating solutions to social problems to simply supplementing the state in its effort to maintain status quo–and the movement dies.

I’ve chosen to run my organization, Intersex Initiative as a private entity without any government, foundation or corporate grants in part because I don’t like doing paperwork, but also in part because I didn’t want to turn it into yet another bureaucracy. It is primarily funded through giving lectures at various universities, and also by keeping it cheap (I work out of my own Studio apartment, etc.).

So anyway, I’ve removed Google Checkout as a payment option for all of my websites, including this one. Congratulations, Google!

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