an open letter to PayPal

Friends– you are many ...

Thank you for your support and understanding. As you know from my post last night, I am having problems with PayPal and the HEARTS + HANDS project. One of the most frustrating aspects to this is that PayPal's compliance department does not have a phone number. Email is the only option – and they have 24-72 hours in which to respond. Each response I have gotten has failed to actually answer all of my questions.

And so I just sent this email to PayPal. Please, if there is anyone out there that can offer solid advice – or knows a way to reach the right people at PayPal, let me know. Let's make our voices heard – all we are trying to do is something good, together.


Open letter to PayPal sent this morning –

Thank you for your reply. However, I am increasingly frustrated that I cannot speak to a person in real time about this situation. I appreciate the email replies, but they don't ever answer all my questions – and then I'm left waiting for the next round of emails. Please reply in full or have someone who can help call me at (my phone number here). If I am unable to answer the phone, please leave a message with a name and number so that I may return the call.

Last night I removed the PayPal button, essentially shutting down Hearts + Hands, so that we could work together to resolve the problem at hand without further transactions coming through.

Here are my questions in list format.  I would like to get complete answers for each question in full so that I feel we are both working hard to resolve this issue.

1. Because Shelterbox has given permission to fund raise, is Hearts + Hands allowed to continue to accept straight donations?

2. Am I able to still sell the letterpress cards on Hearts + Hands if the giveaway is removed? 100% of each sale goes to Shelterbox.

3. Please state clearly what you need me to do in order to be able to continue fund raising at Hearts + Hands.

4. Please state clearly what I am supposed to do with all of the donations and payments that have come in thus far. Are they valid and transferable to Shelterbox if the giveaway is removed?

5. What if
every single person donating were to receive a thank you gift? This is no longer a raffle/giveaway/call it what you will. It just becomes a thank you gift, plain and simple, that every single person receives. There is absolutely nothing wrong or illegal about sending a thank you gift to every person.

6. Please state clearly if, in fact, my only option at this point is to refund every single transfer that has come in, despite even the option above in #4. Would it change things if donors were clearly informed that there is no longer a giveaway involved? That is, if each person was notified that instead of a receiving an entry to the giveaway, their donation would simply go toward Shelterbox – and he or she agreed – would the transaction be valid?

7. Why is it that huge for-profit corporations are allowed to add the phrase "no purchase necessary in order to win" and then carry on with the same sort of giveaway – and yet Hearts + Hands is not? I would like to restate that this is not for financial gain in any sense – for any of the artists involved, myself included. In fact, quite the opposite for me as I've spent numerous hours – when I would usually be working in my studio for paying clients – to both organize this project and now put things right.


I look forward to hearing back, but would really appreciate a phone call from a person who is able to address and answer all of my questions.

Thank you for your time,

Lynn Russell

HEARTS + HANDS for Japan


  1. Have you tried their regular customer service number? Maybe someone there can somehow help?

  2. Please know that all of us out here on the net, who follow your blog and buy your lovely work, appreciate what a generous and amazing person you are. How you are doing all of this is astonishing. This will get resolved.

  3. Take a deep breath, this too will pass. You are doing all of this for others and I just want to be one small voice to let you know that your kindness is a ripple and as you are experiencing this latest struggle with the logistics I hope that you can feel the ripple of kindness return to you. Thank you for what you are doing, it will work out, you will find a way and all of us are grateful and patient as you figure out what that way will be.

  4. thanks for everything you're doing lynn. i'm so sorry for the frustration you're going through. we all know how well-meaning you are and your efforts mean a lot. sending you a hug

  5. Just wanted to let you know that we support you, and we hope that you sort things w/ Paypal soon!

  6. I'm sorry to hear this! We'll let our ManhattanMom.com readers know and keep checking back for details.

    Unfortunately, I don't know any of the answers to your PayPal questions BUT I have worked with NYCharities.org on a few projects and they were really easy to work with and accommodating. Their primary focus is events (or at least it was) but I was able to use their system for donations, sales, etc. I hope that helps if you can't end up working with PayPal.

    We're rooting for you!

  7. OOF! What a hassle. Why must they be so difficult! Thanks so much for all your work and for this well crafted email to Paypal. Truly wonderful how much money was raised.