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YouTuber ‘The Completionist’ facing claims of charitable negligence

Long time YouTuber Jirard Khalil, known as ‘The Completionist’, is facing accusations of withholding over $600,000 USD in charitable donations over a span of nine years.

If you’ve ever donated money to the Open Hand Foundation as part of the annual IndieLand livestreaming event, it’s likely that your money hasn’t actually gone anywhere.

Organised by Jirard Khalil, a gaming YouTuber better known as ‘The Completionist’, IndieLand brings together tons of developers and live streamers to raise money specifically for dementia charities.

Jirard lost his mother to dementia in 2013, after she was diagnosed in 2003. He says that his family set up the Open Hand Foundation and IndieLand in honour of her fight and memory. IndieLand has been running for six years, and has reportedly raised over $650,000 USD in total.

However, two YouTubers – SomeOrdinaryGamers and Karl Jobst – ran an investigation into the finances of the Open Hand Foundation, and discovered that none of the donated cash has been given to any charity whatsoever.

In the nine years since it began operations in 2014, it has yet to donate a single penny to any cause that is fighting dementia. This means that the $650,000 USD, an accumulation of viewer donations, has simply been gathering dust, with an additional $100,000 USD being spent on ‘expenses’ over the years.

In a direct response to the investigation, Jirard and his brother Jacque Khalil claimed that the organisation simply couldn’t find a trustworthy charity to donate the cash to, and was still waiting for a beneficiary that ‘met its standards’. Jirard also said that he had only been made aware of the situation in 2021. During a call with both YouTubers, Jirard even asked if they had any recommendations as to where to send the money.

Keep in mind that IndieLand still ran last year and in 2023, with Jirard going on record repeatedly asking for money that ‘all goes to charity’.

Now, unsurprisingly, a large portion of The Completionist’s audience is upset, with his most recent video facing mass dislikes and angry comments from doners and long-time viewers.

One person wrote, ‘My father has dementia and I was so proud that people like you, gamers that I could relate to, were at the forefront…championing our cause. It’s a shame to find out that you are not like me and not someone I can relate to.’

Another said, ‘The fact that you knew and just sat on it says a lot man. You made a lot of mistakes and I [don’t know] if any apologies can make it right.’

Why is this a big deal?

Of course, it’s worth mentioning that the money itself supposedly hasn’t been spent elsewhere, at least as far as we know. There’s currently no evidence to suggest that funds have been poured into personal accounts whatsoever.

However, both SomeOrdinaryGamers and Karl Jobst say that they presented the Open Hand Foundation’s public financial records to accountants, and all said that the details presented obvious and alarming red flags.

For example, every year the foundation spends between approximately $10,000 and $20,000 USD on expenses.

Normally a company or non-profit would detail what exactly these expenses are, and how they’re being used to benefit its goals. Most of the time, you’ll see a rundown on the specifics of an expense report. For the Open Hand Foundation, all these outgoings are under a single umbrella ‘expenses’ label, with no further information. This is an immediate concern.

It’s not just the financial logistics, either. Hoarding such a large amount of money for such a substantial amount of time is morally dubious at best, and intentionally deceptive at worst.

Routinely misleading audiences into believing their donations were being sent to good causes while secretly stockpiling cash for many years puts charity work in a bad light, and casts doubt over The Completionist’s intentions and well-established reputation.

Even if the money is now donated and sent where it’s supposed to go, we will never know if Open Hand ever originally intended on doing so, or simply caved to public pressure.

Jirard has claimed many times on live streams and during IndieLand events that the Open Hand Foundation is working with organisations across the world, including the Alzheimer’s Association and the University of California San Francisco (UCSF).

Why did he do this even after he supposedly found out about the Open Hand’s inability to distribute its funds? He repeatedly says that the foundation is helping and collaborating with other, larger organisations, deliberately painting a picture of active charity work.

Any viewer would believe that their money is being used, not left in a bank account indefinitely. This is partly what makes this scandal so disappointing, especially for those that have been touched by the death of a parent or the effects of dementia.

How does this damage YouTube and charity fundraising as a whole?

There’s no doubt that some in the wider YouTuber community will be frustrated and disappointed at these revelations. Charity work and livestream events are a big part of the digital creator space, and do a lot of good for those in need.

Stories like this erode trust between donators and charities. Many well-established organisations are known to use a significant chunk of their earnings on administration costs and salaries.

Understanding where your money goes is tough enough as it is, let alone when third party events such as IndieLand misuse the cash they receive.

Viewers and fans have already expressed their new-found hesitancy to trust fundraising, and many commentors have suggested simply donating directly to the causes you care about. When investigations uncover misleading practices such as this, it’s hard to argue against such advice.

We will have to see what happens next.

At the time of writing, Jirard has yet to put out any public statement since both investigative YouTube videos were published by SomeOrdinaryGamers and Karl Jobst. At a guess, it’s likely that the Open Hand Foundation will donate the funds, though whether it affects future IndieLand events or fundraiser opportunities spearheaded by Jirard is unclear.

Regardless, this ordeal will have had a definite, long-term impact on viewer trust. It may be some time before that bridge can be repaired.