There’s something shady going on with Humble Bundle right now
(This is copied and pasted from a post in a Facebook group related to the Podquisition gaming podcast.)
Hey guys! There was a thread here a few hours ago about how shady the latest Humble Bundle is, and the evidence that the charity being supported isn’t legitimate. I spent a while collecting the evidence we found and writing it up and I emailed it to Laura and Jim so that hopefully one of them can publish something about this unacceptable situation and try to make Humble answer for themselves. (I might put this together more nicely with some extra research on my own YouTube channel) I’m looking for other games journalists who I can email this to, and I’ll also post the entire body of it here for anybody who missed the last post or didn’t see just how shady it gets (the worst part is at the end). Also, feel free to just copy this and send it wherever you want ofc.
So, the most recent Humble Bundle is called the Humble “Hope for Orphans” Bundle, because they have partnered with a charity called Change30. On the humble website, it shows a logo, says that the payments go through the PayPal Giving Fund, and has this description:
“Our mission is to inspire purpose in Russian orphans by providing them with the love, guidance & resources they need to lead fulfilling lives. Our heart is for the orphans of Russia to not only survive, but thrive.”
However, Humble does not include any other information about the organization, or even include a link to their website. It has one video advertising the group, but this doesn’t actually say anything about what the organization is, other than naming one of their employees, Artyom Sternichuk, who didn’t show up on anything when I Googled his name. (also, nobody seems to have watched the video and it’s unlisted). Change30 is also not included on the list of charities Humble has worked with. This is already slightly suspicious, because it seems to imply that they have something to hide, and that Humble would prefer not to be transparent or that people don’t actually look into the charities they’re supporting but this is only the beginning.
A fellow user on the Jimquisition/Podquisition fan group found it tasteless that this bundle included very violent military shooters such as Killing Floor and Homefront: The Revolution (I would agree). As such, that poster did the research and found their website (which isn’t easy by the way, it doesn’t come up in a Google search for the charity). On the website’s “about us” page, it reveals that it is a Christian charity with this, different, mission statement:
“The mission of Change30 is to inspire purpose in Russian orphans by providing them with the love, guidance & critical resources they need to lead fulfilling lives & develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.”
Many people were upset about this for a variety of reasons, from the Russian Orthodox Church having contributed to LGBT discrimination, or personal secular beliefs. Here is a Reddit thread and article which picked up this part of the story.
However, a couple of commenters and I dug a little deeper and noticed that this charity does not seem to be a legitimate organization in any way, despite whether or not Humble disclosed its religious work. Firstly, the only listed address for the organization is a PO box in Arkansas. Secondly information on this charity is virtually nonexistent. Googling “change30 charity” only results in completely unrelated results, articles about the Humble Bundle (which clearly have not looked into the charity being supported), and a Facebook page, with photos and evidence that they do events, but with very few Likes and very little specificity into what they do at these events, or where future events will be. Almost every single charity tracker, even the biggest ones, do not have any listing for Change30. Another Facebook commenter found this listing on the website GuideStar: https://www.guidestar.org/profile/26-1112685 , which is barely complete: it includes only information about its tax filing (most of which is also available on the Change 30 website on the “Donate” page, where the address was listed). The GuideStar page names the organization’s chairman as Daniel Prox (here’s his Linkedin page, maybe he used to work at Humble or something to explain this situation. The only thing on there which I see as notable is that being chairman of Change30 is clearly not his full-time job.), and also has the same Arkansas address as the Change30 website (this is about to be important).
— -Here’s the part which confirms definitievely that this charity is lying about something and might not be legit: — -
So far, the situation is basically that Humble has been unacceptably vague and seems to have been actively hiding an unsavoury element of a charity it is advertising. However, what I consider to be the real smoking gun that there is something going on here below the façade of a charity is that if you go on the IRS website and look them up using the charity ID number listed on both the GudeStar page and the Change30 website), you get a completely different corporation. The listing comes up as a charity called “Fund Pchyolka” in a completely different city in Georgia. It doesn’t give any other information, but seems to confirm that Change30 is a front for something else (note that they offer no studies or proof that they have done any good with their work). I am not sure what “Fund Pcholka” means, but “Pcholka” seems to be one translation of the name of a dog that was launched into space by the Soviet Union.
EDIT: A very helpful commenter has found the Russian website for this group. It seems that “Fund Pcholka” is the name that the charity operates under in Russia. This clears up a few issues: the employee featured in the video produced by Humble is listed as a staff member with a phone number and email on various pages of the website. Additionally, there are social media accounts with footage of those same people running programs for young children at a building with the same logo as the website (the address for that building is also on the website). This does seem to rule out my fear that this organization was a complete sham.
However, not everything is accounted for. There is no mention of a religious affiliation on the charity’s Russian website, nor is there any mention of Daniel Prox. If the charity is registered with the American government under their Russian name, why did they make up an extremely generic English name and completely redo all their branding and social media without making any connection at all to the main organization? Also, how does Daniel Prox fit into the picture? Now that the charity seems to be real, we need to figure out why Humble and the organization itself is trying to hide itself from the Humble Bundle audience.