The Completionist Charity Saga is Messier Than We Thought

YouTube/The Completionist Shutterstock/VectorV

Jirard Khalil, known online as The Completionist, released a response video on Sunday to accusations that his family’s charity, The Open Hand Foundation, held over $600,000 raised over nine years instead of donating it to charity. The accusations spread throughout social media, issuing a warning call to other creators performing charity work online and to fans who are donating to their causes.

The Completionist YouTube channel, which has over 1.6 million subscribers, took a break from its regular content of Khalil completing video games to address these allegations, which stemmed from multiple videos released in the past few weeks by YouTubers Mutahar “SomeOrdinaryGamers” Anas and Karl Jobst.

According to the charity’s website, the organization was founded in memory of Khalil’s mother. It was “built to provide much-needed funding and resources toward research to find a cure for Frontotemporal Dementia.” The charity had two main forms of funding: a charity golf tournament and IndieLand, a live-streamed event where Khalil played and promoted indie games. The stream, which had been going since 2018, had articles claiming that the event raised $100,000 in 2021 and more than $80,000 in 2022 for dementia research.

In his response video on The Completionist YouTube channel, Khalil said that IndieLand will no longer “have a charity component” and that he will be stepping down from his role as a board member at The Open Hand Foundation. He also claimed that during IndieLand live streams, he had mentioned the names of a few charities the organization was “working with” when, in actuality, they had only “communicated or considered them.” He said, in hindsight, “It was not appropriate to make such statements.”

In addition, he threatened legal action against Anas and Jobst, who he claimed had accused him of “forgery, embezzlement, and charity fraud,” which “directly threatened the safety” of himself and his family. 

“I want to be clear, at no point in the foundation’s history was there any criminal or financial fraud,” Khalil said in the video on The Completionist YouTube channel. “I’m disappointed that I was not more straightforward regarding the organization’s timeline for making donations.”

How The Completionist Got Here

YouTuber Jobst, who sparked the initial conversation about the charity funds, told Passionfruit that he had been “advised by an anonymous source that the tax filings of The Open Hand Foundation showed they had not donated any money since inception.” So for the next two weeks, he and fellow YouTuber Anas dug through public records on the IRS website (that Passionfruit confirmed) and found that since the organization’s founding in 2014, it’s held onto all the money raised for charity — totaling $650,000.

The video featured a recent interview with Khalil, who confirmed that he learned the money was “still in the account” in 2022 and that he “assumed it was all going to a charity.”

One of the main claims in both videos centered around quotes from Khalil in IndieLand streams where he said the money was going to charities. In 2021, Khalil said that money raised by “bits, subs, donations” was going to the “benefit of helping others.” In 2022, he said, “We are soon going to be partnered up with the Alzheimer’s Association.” 

In a statement to the YouTubers from The Open Hand Foundation in a video by Anas, the organization says it ensures “all donors that funds are conserved with diligence and foresight, earmarked for research endeavors.” The Open Hand Foundation, Khalil, and Anas did not respond to our request for comment via email.

“This isn’t drama; this is erroring at best and severe negligence, or it could go into actual charitable fraud,” Anas said in his video. 

Over the next month, Anas and Jobst would make multiple videos questioning where the money went for the charity golf tournament. (In The Completionist’s response video, Khalil mentioned he had not been involved in “any of the event planning.”) Anas and Jobst said they think the organization should be investigated.

And in the midst of all of these accusations, on Dec. 4, the Open Hand Foundation published a press release on its website saying that the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration, which helps families affected by frontotemporal degeneration, had received a $600,000 gift from the foundation on Nov. 29. 

“There is no doubt in my mind, personally, that this money was donated because of the immense public pressure that was put on them by Khalil’s viewers, those that watched me and Karl’s reporting,” Anas said in a Dec. 7 video

Jobst told Passionfruit, “I was happy that they finally donated some of the money people had given them. I believe this is entirely a response to external pressure as a result of videos released by Mutahar and myself.” 

But days later, after Khalil released his statement on The Completionist YouTube channel, Anas responded with a video within the day. Anas argued that we still don’t know how much money was raised outside the $600,000 donated. They noted that their main accusation originated from the quotes from IndieLand streams and interviews, where they claimed Khalil had misled viewers by saying that the donations were already going to charities.

“Nobody claimed it’s illegal to hold funds,” Anas said. “What the claim here is you never made it readily apparent that you were stockpiling for a restricted donation to the audience you were soliciting these public donations from.” 

What’s the Legality?

Much of the internet quickly picked sides, either defending or blaming Khalil for this whole saga. The conversation reached such a toxic point on The Completionist subreddit that moderators have started removing posts about it. However, the question of legality and fraud remains unanswered.

“Despite the recent donation, there is an argument that donors were misled by publicly made statements into thinking their contributions would immediately go to fund research and other efforts to cure FTD instead of sitting in a bank account earning interest,” Franklin Graves, a tech and media attorney told Passionfruit. “No matter the reality of the situation, the legal implications for the officers and directors of Open Hand Foundation could be serious, especially if there isn’t a clear audit trail for prior years.”

According to Graves, it could help the foundation’s case that the public IRS filings, if they are correct, show a licensed CPA was involved in tax preparation, and there was “minimal use of the funds” before the $600,000 donation — aka, there weren’t excessive expenses going to travel or executive salaries.

But, “if there are missing contributions, grants, or other funds from events that never made their way to the foundation’s bank account, then it could be legally problematic for everyone involved,” Graves added. 

Another possibility, according to Graves, is that “the organization and the individual leaders are sued, and potentially held personally liable if they are found to have acted recklessly or negligently in carrying out their duties for the organization.” Adding that a large regular investigation, “should be concerning as this case may offer the perfect opportunity to make a big, public example of misleading fundraising on social media.”

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