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Greater DC Cares dissolves after declaring bankruptcy

Tuesday - 9/24/2013, 12:11am  ET

Greater DC Cares, an organization that connected some 40,000 Washington area volunteers with more than 700 nonprofits, has shut its doors for lack of funding.

According to a message on the group’s website, HandsOn Greater DC Cares Inc. closed up shop Sept. 20 and “filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy to dissolve the organization.” The organization described itself as the “leading and largest nonprofit coordinator of volunteerism and service in the region.”

“Greater DC Cares’ mission has been to improve the capacity of D.C. area non-profits and create an outstanding volunteer experience,” per that message. “With the downturn in the economy over the last several years, our nonprofit has found itself poorly positioned to sustain the funding necessary to support programs across the community.”

“Though we are saddened as we close our doors, we are gladdened by the fact that our mission and values will stay alive and thrive in the D.C. area as corporations, nonprofits, and volunteers continue to work together to improve the health and well-being of our community,” the statement continues.

The Greater DC Cares bankruptcy filing shows $34,698.11 in personal property assets ($1,000 worth of computers, for example, and a $10 microwave) and $530,964.32 in liabilities.

The two largest claims are a line of credit from Bank of America for $162,370.80 and an office lease with Lipman Hearne Inc. for $161,765. There are claims for equipment leases, back pay, audit and accounting services, technology and telecommunications services and office supplies, among others.

Greater DC Cares managed the Servathon and the 9/11 Day of Service, among other annual events. Its sponsors included Deloitte, Accenture and Fannie Mae. It received $105,000 from the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation between 2008 and 2011, and $30,000 from the Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation in 2012.

The organization's phone numbers appear to be out of service.

"Greater DC Cares accomplished a lot, but facilitating volunteerism is, by its nature, a tough business model to sustain," Chuck Bean, executive director of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Government and former chief of the Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington, said in an email. "I am sorry to see it go."

"My hope is that other regional organizations can fill the void, but if they can't I'd hope the national 'Hands on Mothership' could trigger a reboot," Bean continued. "Even if not exactly in the organizational form as we know it, we need this function filled in the Nation's Capital."

The decision to declare bankruptcy was made by the Greater DC Cares board on July 26, according to a statement in the bankruptcy filing, signed by Matthew Mitchell, the board's chairman.

Mitchell, Covington & Burling LLP's chief information officer, declined Monday to discuss how the organization reached this point, and he would not say whether he's personally protected from claims with directors and officers liabilities insurance.

But Mitchell said he hopes that other D.C. nonprofits can pick up the Greater DC Cares baton.

"We would love to see the mission continue and have other organizations pick up that mission," he said.

© 2013 American City Business Journals, Inc.