HH beat me to a comprehensive answer (the limited time I have to devote to this board was occupied with certain "sovereign" scammers in the forum of that name, above). But you ask an important question, you sound sincere, and I want to answer.
In a nutshell, you are attempting to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic. Doing so may mean that it will take you longer to go under than those at the other end of the ship. But you'll still go under. You can't survive without constant infusions of cash from new people. Since the reason people join you is to get paid - I'll discuss that more below - your recruiting is inherently deceptive. You cannot fulfil the expectations of your members without endless recruiting, and that's the deception of a pyramid scheme.
You list specific reasons you believe that CUA is not a pyramid:
(1) "Connecting Us All has no consideration." Well, yes, it does. There are the "subscription payments" which we've already discussed. In addition - as I tried to discuss but you didn't respond - there is the difference between those who give immediately upon joining and those who don't. The former group are immediately entered in the gifting program, and the fate of the latter is unclear, as is the reason for the difference. Finally, the members of the gifting program receive gifts
. Unless you and Ulrich put up the money out of your pockets, it comes from other members. How is that not "consideration"?
(2) "you don't have to gift anyone anything if you choose not to". But that's the only reason people join. There are hundreds (or thousands) of perfectly legitimate charities out there. The only reason people join you is not to give - they can do that anywhere, and to organizations far more organized than you to deliver aid where it is needed the most - but to receive. As I've suggested before, close down the gifting program for a couple of months and see how many people join. Go ahead, prove me wrong.
Moreover, as HH and I (especially HH) have been pointing out, your members emphasize receiving in their recruiting pitches. If the hammer ever comes down on you, your protestations that they do it on their own are going to ring quite hollow. When you combine their continued sales pitches with the undisputed fact that CUA's only activity is distributing money, the conclusion that you are an unlawful gifting scheme is an easy one to reach.
As I'm sure you are aware, Dockstader made similar pleas - that it was voluntary, no one had to participate, and so forth. The court had no problem affirming his conviction
. It was later thrown out because his lawyer was ineffective and had a blatant conflict of interest, not because he was innocent of running a pyramid scheme. As the FTC says
Avoid being misled into thinking a gifting club is legitimate because the ads say that members consider their payments a gift and expect nothing in return. This is an attempt to make an illegal transaction look legal.
What agency has primary responsibility in the US for enforcement of federal laws against pyramids?
The "Women Helping Women" scam from California a few years ago went one better - they had their members sign agreements that they had no expectation of receiving anything, that joining guaranteed nothing, and so forth. It didn't matter
. Shut down, leaders indicted.
General legal principle: the law will look at the substance of conduct, not the form. There is no reason to join Connecting Us All without the possibility of receiving. It is widely advertised as a painless way to make money. People pay, one way or another, to belong. The only product is
money, which must keep coming in from new recruits or you collapse.
"If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks" is perfectly good law.