'Share Our Shoes' could face loss of charity status

February 15, 2012 5:06:08 AM PST
There are new details in an I-Team Troubleshooter investigation of the Raleigh nonprofit, "Share Our Shoes."

In November, we exposed how the charity actually sells a lot of their donated shoes, as the founder, Jennifer Pierce said they need the money for operating expenses. We also told you about a $6,000 loan that Pierce admitted to taking from one of her buyers but later said she paid back, plus a church's large donation of shoes and money that didn't go originally as planned. Also, we let you know about a state investigation. Now, there are new details in that investigation.

The Secretary of State's office just filed a notice of intent to revoke Share Our Shoes' charitable solicitation license. That means, if this goes through, the charity could no longer operate as a non-profit.

The nonprofit now has 10 days to respond to this, and Pierce told me she will fight this because neither she nor her charity has done anything wrong.

"Too many people that knock on this door everyday that need shoes," said Pierce.

The Secretary of State issued the notice of intent to revoke the nonprofit's charitable solicitation license because the state claims the charity failed to provide complete information the state asked for back in November. It is information that included the nonprofit's financial, donations, distributions of shoes, treasurer reports, and amount of reimbursement for business expenses received by Pierce.

In the banking and financial information the state did receive from Pierce, the state found thousands of dollars worth of charges that the state claims may not have furthered the charitable purpose of Share Our Shoes, like more than a $1,000 worth of charges to fast food restaurants.

"Buying volunteers burgers, can't afford to pay people," said Pierce. "So we'll buy them something to eat, or even me and my daughter for long period of time and we buy something to eat, something is as simple as I misplaced my debit card and used it during personal time and I reimbursed it to the company."

Also included is more than $2,500 at gas stations. Pierce said the charity does pay for her gas usage.

The notice from the state also questions close to $400 worth of Share Our Shoes expenses on nails, hair, tanning even teeth whitening.

"I feel like I need to have my nails done if I'm going to going to a meeting or meet with someone about promotional type stuff," said Pierce.

Pierce said once she learned from Share Our Shoes' former attorney she could not do that, she said she did reimburse those expenses. She insists she did nothing wrong.

"Any money that was used of Share Our Shoes was used for charitable purposes, beyond a doubt that's why I'm still here," said Pierce.

Pierce admits part of the reason why she had such a hard time original responding to the state's investigation is because her record keeping is not the best.

"Some of the liquidations are on the back of a shoe box," she said.

While it's not professional, she said she has documents to prove all the expenses made are charity related or she paid them back. Pierce does have 10 days to respond to this notice.

"I'm grateful for that 10 days," said Pierce. "I feel very good about it."

Pierce claims she no longer is getting a paycheck from Share Our Shoes. She said she continues to fight because she believes too much in this.

Pierce said her board of directors is no longer with her. Her attorneys are also gone.

So as of right now, Share Our Shoes' license is still current and active. Once the state gets the charity's response to their notice, they'll make a ruling.

As for Hope Community Church's donation of shoes and money that were originally in question, Pierce has provided proof that Share Our Shoes shipped more than 20,000 pairs of shoes to Haiti, which included Hope's shoe donation. She added they used Hope's monetary donation to help pay for the shipping of those shoes to Haiti.

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