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If a webpage claims to be a ministry supporting outreach to the community.

If they offer things like dream interpretation for a minimum donation.

Is it somehow deceptive? Really it is a sale like a book. What is give above the minimum IS a donation right?

It feels like fraud at lest manipulation.

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It really depends on the claim they make. Claiming to be a 501(c) tax-exempt non-profit organization is a specific claim, and if they are not one but are soliciting donations claiming to be one, that would be fraudulent. Even if they had been given tax-exempt status that was obtained fraudulently, they aren't legally tax-exempt (see US v. Godfrey 787 F.3d 72). There are also state-level tax-exemptions, so you'd have to check what exact claim they made about their non-profitness. There is no legal requirement to make a profit, and it is perfectly legal to run an enterprise that has any social goal it wants, even if an organization is not recognized by the IRS as a tax-exempt entity of some kind.

There is no requirement that a non-profit entity offer its services for free, so requesting a minimum donation for a service (or even for no service) is allowed.

A further consideration is whether there is some requirement to be registered with the state. In Washington (RCW 19.09.065), "All charitable organizations and commercial fund-raisers must register with the secretary (of state) prior to conducting any solicitations": the concern is with charitable, not non-profit.

As to whether dream interpretation itself is fraudulent, it would again depend on the claims made. It is an activity protected by the 1st Amendment, so the deception would have to be pretty egregious. Manipulation is legal, and rather common during election years.

  • Here is their web site: replenishedhope.com Not easy to find but I found this "Replenished Hope is not currently a 501c but plans are in the works towards nonprofit status." It just seems to me that its like a psycic claiming that their services are for charity. I appreciate your input. Let me know if you agree that despite not being illegal it is or isn't manipulation. – Brian Willess Jun 6 '16 at 22:38

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