Thursday, April 28, 2016

What is going on with the Gygax Memorial Fund?

Merriam-Webster lists as a second meaning for the word stakeholder one that has a stake in an enterprise

It is my contention that all of us, myself included, that donated money to the Gygax Memorial Fund (hereinafter referred to as GMF) are stakeholders in the effort. As such, we have a right to know what is going on; what has been done to finalize a site? How is the money being spent? What is it being spent on? Just how much money is there in the GMF?

Recently, Tenkar’s Tavern ( a blog at asked a series of questions of Gail Carpenter Gygax, most of which went unanswered; some of the answers raised more questions.
Why were so many tax returns for GMF only made public recently (since Tenkar’s inquiries), which is at variance for WI requirements for transparency of all organizations  operating as a 501-c-3 Not-For-Profit entity?

Looking over the myriad papers, all sorts of things stand out

The single biggest head-scratcher is realizing that apparently none of the money in GMF is invested in ANYTHING! In the part of the required filings where investment (interest is accounted for in this section) proceeds are recorded, there is a glaring zero. Where is all of this money (close to a quarter of a million dollars) “sitting”? In a checking account earning zero interest? Is this a sound business principle?

One of the avowed principles of the GMF is to provide scholarships; the GMF could have provided a $2500 scholarship on the lost potential of last year alone.

I have never done real well with higher math and business principles; I’m OK at arithmetic ‘cuz I use a good old calculator. Totaling up the tax returns available online, they seem to indicate that GMF received $244K between 2010 and 2014. The most recent statement shows that the GMF has $222K
One document shows a person working .10 (1/10th) of an hour per week; that’s six minutes a week or 5 hours for the year. When I asked that person about it, he had absolutely no idea what it was about. How does someone work just six minutes per week?

Who is on the Board (or whatever name your organization uses for the group that oversees and directs it’s activities)? When were they elected? Why was an original member not informed that he had been replaced? Where are the organizational meeting minutes (as required by WI statute)? Are the meetings open to interested parties? Stakeholders?

In a year that saw almost no income “because of illness”, how was $1700 (four times the income for 2014) spent on “office, conference and meeting” expenses?

What were the 260 hours claimed spent doing?

Just what is the target $$ goal of the GMF? How much do you think you will need to accomplish your goals?

Has there been any success in changing the minds of the city officials that seem adamantly opposed to the location you want? What is the location that you have now, but don’t wish to use?

What is being done on the website? Why have you listed as “Audio Visual Engineer” a person that has had no contact with GMF for some years?

When will all the relevant, and required, documents be made available?

Why has there been no visible progress for close to two years now?

On behalf of the thousands of stakeholders in GMF, what the heck is going on?


  1. The side step she may be taking to "use" the money is that not for profits can pay someone on staff of the fund. Watch out for that slimey way she may be legally embezzling the money.

    Let's hope the rest of the charter is followed. I'd like to see the charter of the org made public.

  2. If there are any legal steps that may be taken to force Gail to release paperwork, answer these questions, move forward, and/or be replaced with a more competent steward, I hope someone with the appropriate legal background will step forward and let us all know what we can do to help bring those actions about. There are certainly a great many of us willing to do what we can.

  3. Tim, I thank you for following up on this. Maybe this time we'll get some actual answers.

  4. A Ponzi scheme with no actual payouts?

  5. Wouldn't the FoIA (Freedom of Information Act) answer some of the questions posted? Seems that there are TOO many questions that need to be answered for monies that are just appearing to lay dormant with no activity.

    1. The Freedom of Information Act does not apply to privately run organizations or non-profits, but only to the federal government. Thus, no, the FoIA does not apply here, but the Internal Revenue Service could revoke their tax-exempt status.

      The disclosure requirement for privately run organizations depend on other laws, for example the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (public traded companies) or the Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act (non-profits).

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  8. I am saddened by the way all of this has transpired. Certain individuals seem to have the intention of fleecing quite a number of people; That being said, I can not give definitive proof that the intention to do just that was there, nor can I say that all the funds raised have been spent. However, in all appearances, the lack of transparency indicates just that.

  9. I don't know Gail, and I've read precious little of any real substance about her, the GMF and the Gygax children and how they all interact, but wouldn't it be as simple as reporting the GMFs legal failures under WI Not-for-Profit laws to get some of these answers?

  10. D&D documentary, D&D museum, Gygax many good ideas, and none came to life :(

  11. It is all rather depressing. Would hate to see this money end up in lawyer pockets. Lawyers have done enough damage here--hopefully this can all be sorted out in the gaming community, it would be bitter irony indeed if the project is alienated from the community of people who created it. Thanks for the information.