My largest block of clients are charitable organizations. In that nonprofit field the company TechSoup is a popular vendor of technology services. A few recent events cause me to ask more questions.
I’ve made a few purchases for clients through them. TechSoup markets “donated and specially discounted technology offers”. But lately I’ve noticed that specific deals are better directly from the product creator. For example, one nonprofit client pays $15/month for access to Adobe Acrobat through TechSoup. Adobe made a direct offer by email for $10/month. I know that’s not Techsoup’s fault but it does make me question the underlying value of this discout purchase service.
Some recent articles about TechSoup were not so flattering. Earlier this year The Nonprofit Times wrote “TechSoup is looking more and more like a Silicon Valley player” in discussing more than $15 million new venture capital financing.
Then today I received an email from TechSoup, directed to one of my clients from “Bob, Account Management Specialist”. I questioned its authenticity and whether the true intent was data mining. In the spirit of “trust but verify” I offered this exchange:
TECHSOUP: “TechSoup is unable to confirm your organization’s 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. To qualify your organization, we require: – A copy of your 501(c)(3) determination letter from the IRS”.
MY RESPONSE: This is Tony Novak, CPA, controller for xxxxxxxxxxxx.
Please confirm the authenticity of this request that is apparently sent by “Bob, Account Management Specialist” and clarify what seems like an odd request. The request indicates that “TechSoup is unable to confirm your organization’s 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.” Why does TechSoup want to confirm Baysave’s tax-exempt status? What business does TechSoup have with Baysave that requires this?
Typically an organization’s tax-exempt status is posted online at IRS.gov and services like GuideStar. Both of these sites verify xxxxxxxxx’s 501(c)(3) status. Why does TechSoup not use these online services to verify tax-exempt status?
The message says “..we require: – A copy of your 501(c)(3) determination letter from the IRS”. Since this determination letter is already available online at the organization’s web site, why is this online copy of the determination letter not sufficient?
I would be interested in hearing other accountants’ experiences with @TechSoup.