You find out someone stole from your organization - what happens next (A FUNdraising Journey)

Embezzlement - What Happens NEXT!

Jacob Kimbel

Standing in the parking lot at my local park, 8 days before opening day... of our first year of baseball... moments after I'd found out that one of our local community members had allegedly embezzled funds from our park.... (Last week, you found out how he used some of that money to buy Kenny Chesney concert tickets and more.)

Standing in my local park, I was ANGRY. The tone and temper of my anger was hidden, originally by shame. It was there though... burning through my skin. 

It was quickly replaced by shame and anxiety!!!!

How could this have happened? Seriously, all the money is gone? How did we? What are we going to do? How did I? How...what....why...when... 

OH....MY....GOD... we don't have any money!


One thing I have learned in 20 years shaping logistics strategy and responding to disasters on 7 continents; YOU CAN NOT PANIC when you are faced with your original problem. You need to understand more than just what's infront of you. You have to think without emotion!!! 

What I had not learned in 25 years was how to deal with that situation when your emotions, children, family, and community have been taken advantage of!

I wanted to scream.... I wanted to do much more than that!!!

We stood there for a while, in awe. 

How could this have happened?

(I'll blog on HOW in the future from a Six Sigma standpoint.) 

TODAY I want to focus on WHAT'S NEXT?

In the last decade, it is estimated that over $17M has been embezzled from youth sports in the United States! (NBSF6, 6/26/2018) Over 50% of those crimes are NEVER reported. 


Communities are embarrassed. 

There are kids and families involved. 

We don't want to embarrass the innocent!



In order to recover from embezzlement the most important thing you can do is report the crime!

In order to help other communities it's important to REPORT AND COMMUNICATE!

As leaders in our youth sports community, we often make the mistake of thinking with our emotions. We rationalize the decision to report based on children and families. Over 50% of these crimes are not reported as a result. No one is vindicated!

To report means to expose innocent members of your community, the most innocent. It also means exposing your secrets further!

Once you report the crime you now have to deal with PUBLIC PERCEPTION!!!

In my community I have seen theft occur two different times. In each case the leadership of the organizations wanted to "hide" the event. They were fearful of the perception in the community. They wanted to control the message. 

Once that police report is filed, you can't control the message. Developing a unified message of hope and team work creates positive will from the negative message.



In one case the message and information from the leadership was tightly controlled. There were some press clippings and then internet rumors about what happened. Because of that, rallying community support was difficult. 

In the most recent case in the new park in our community we looked at negative news coverage as an advantage to our fundraising plan. Even though we wanted to hide from the event to "protect" the innocent, we also knew that we had a moral duty to the community to not look away!

We had 8 days to get around the issue and get folks motivated about our community and open the park. Within 24 hours we would have about 20 days to execute our first event!

Our initial response was to circle the wagons and try to hide from the event, the theft, the actions of one person! 

We were ashamed, we'd let our community down! We could have stopped it had we not trusted so much.... we didn't want the community to judge us on the behavior of one person. 

Each of those thoughts just allowed the criminal more freedom!

We had to be careful about what information related to the crime we spoke about. To do that, the executive leadership was masterful at staying in front of volunteer leaders at all levels of the organization. They didn't share specifics, but they were visual and vocal demonstrating a commitment to this community! 

We didn't anticipate that we needed that press and public message to support our future mission to replenish the park and SAVE BASEBALL!

This is a fundraising blog... 

Last week we talked about how our strategy to get a quick infusion in cash was to organize and execute tournaments. Well, what we didn't anticipate was the value of the press!

We reported the crime almost in real time. 

We had great executive leadership that replaced the alleged criminal. That leader put together a tiger team, including myself, that tackled the logistics of the organization. 

We had great individual sports leaders that also stepped up to mobilize their individual community. 

Rather than shying away from this event. We met it face on! 

We knew and understood the value of our community and knew they would rally!


Your message about WHY you FUNdraise is critical. 

Good and bad, you have to communicate your WHY to your community. 

If you are supporting an event of the magnitude of theft or trying to build infrastructure it is critically important that you create an on-going HONEST dialog with your community about your needs and your WHY!

In future blogs, we will talk about FUNdraising overload. That's that experience where you come up with new fundraisers throughout the year that don't have a strategy - or alignment. You just do them because you don't spend time building a fundraising message.  

Without a message and a story as to why you need support, you lose the trust of your audience.  Coming to them only with requests for money, without a WHY will challenge your community perception. 

Build a sustainable FUNdraising plan with clear intentions - even when the reason is BAD!

A FUNdraising Journey continues next week

Building a sustainable FUNdraising plan has not been easy. Next week we chronicle our first tournament experience. Learn from the last 7 years of our fundraising journey on how to make your organization more nimble, efficient, and MUCH more FUN.

You think tournaments are FUN? Think again!



Jacob Kimbel has been a Logistics and Supply Chain strategist for over 20 years. As a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, Jake has consulted with companies and public entities such as Level3 Communications, Kiewit Construction, NBNCo, Amazon, Google, NATO, multiple foreign and domestic governments, and more. Jake left logistics in 2019 to focus full time on amateur fundraising, founding Bush League Brands. Bush League Brands is committed to changing the youth sports fundraising model by creating innovative and functional e-commerce and social media marketing solutions that streamline fundraising for any youth sports organization. A leader in logistics strategy Jake has been recognized by multiple logistics organizations for his innovative solutions for over 20 years. Bush League Brands provides a powerful fundraising solution for amateur sports organizations that relies on social media as the key marketing tool coupled with the same e-commerce engines that drive major on line retailers. Partnered with the best brands in sports, Bush League automates the fundraising process for your organization. From design to final mile delivery Bush League does it all!