Tag Archives: Fruitlands Museum

Embezzlement: Is it Our Dirty Little Secret?

In the last few years, I’ve encountered a surprising number of cases of embezzlement–the internal theft of assets–at many of the non-profit organizations where I’ve worked or been on the board.  The experience not only undermines the trust among colleagues and friends, but also threatens the survival of the organization, many of whom are often skirting the edge of bankruptcy and now have a smaller bank account and a diminished reputation.  Given how frequently I’ve encountered it, I did a quick search about embezzlement at museums and historic sites in the last five years and discovered nearly a dozen heart-wrenching stories:

There are probably many more, but I suspect they’ve kept their stories secret out of embarrassment (but search for “embezzlement” at the Chronicle of Philanthropy to see how widespread it is in the non-profit world). Despite this small sample, there seem to be some common patterns:

  1. It often involves a senior staff member, frequently the Continue reading