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Study Reveals Most Athlete Charities Not Up To Par

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A recent investigation by “Outside the Lines” has found that nearly three quarters of charities founded by high-profile male and female athletes do not meet the financial management standards of nonprofit organizations. Guidelines for efficient and effective use of money were set by Charity Navigator, the Better Business Bureau and the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy—guidelines that 74% of the nonprofits failed to meet.

Charities founded by top-earning athletes were found to have missed one or more of the standards. Outside the Lines found a variety of causes for the issues, which included both deceptive or unethical methods and simple mismanagement or neglect. Many were behind on filing IRS tax returns, and those that had been filed were often error-ridden or full of omissions.

About one third of the charities had total assets above $500,000 (including those run by Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong, Andre Agassi, and Richard and Kyle Petty). But others operated at losses, paying far too much money for administrative or for-profit endeavors and not nearly enough on charitable causes. Lamar Odom’s charity, Cathy’s Kids, was found to have spent no money on cancer-related issues in its eight years of existence, instead spending money to pay for AAU traveling basketball leagues. Other big names have started foundations only to let them fizzle out, sometimes leaving hundreds of thousands of dollars unaccounted for.

I think the philosophy needs to be, ‘If I’m a professional athlete I should give back to my community.’ Whether I need to have a charity of not is a different question,” says Andrew Bondarowicz, who heads the Aregatta Group, which advises athletes on charitable giving.

“If you’re not going to properly support an organization, why have it?” he asks. “There are hundreds and thousands of qualified organizations and many, many people who are legitimately trying to do good things. Why not help them as opposed to letting some flounder?”

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Organizations Resources

The Sound of Change Live Charity Concert

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Beyonce, Florence + The Machine, John Legend and more will be performing at “The Sound of Change Live” charity concert in London on June 1st. The concert will help bring global attention to women’s education, health and justice and is being put on by Chime for Change, a nonprofit organization created through Gucci.

“Chime for Change serves to convene, unite and strengthen the voices speaking out for girls and women around the world,” reads their website. Gucci is no stranger to promoting women’s empowerment; in the past, they’ve partnered with UNICEF and Kering Corporate Foundation, both organizations that have supported girls and women.

“Our goal is to call for change for girls and women in the loudest voice possible,” Beyonce said after announcing she’d be joining the ranks of performers. “I am excited for us to come together on June 1st to bring the issues of Education, Health and Justice for girls and women to the world stage.”

For those that can’t make the concert in person, it will also be broadcast worldwide. Performances will include Beyonce, Florence + The Machine, John Legend, Iggy Azalea, Rita Ora, Timbaland, Ellie Goulding, Laura Pausini and HAIM. Selma Hayek Pinault is also taking part in the concert’s promotion.

“There are no innocent bystanders in the information age,” she said. “Technology connects us as never before But that means we also have the opportunity, and the responsibility, to do something about it. We can be defined not just by what we know, but by what we do, and that is the vision behind Chime for Change.”

Ticket sales begin on March 27th and buyers can choose to donate their ticket price to a charity of their choice.

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Organizations Resources

Turnaround for Children: Annual Impact Awards Dinner

Turn Around for Children
IMG: vai turnaroundusa.org

Turnaround for Children is a nonprofit organization that was founded in 2002 to help poverty-stricken children and schools succeed. Turnaround for Children partners with some of the most impoverished schools in New York and Washington, DC, and works to transform them into “calm, effective learning environment[s].” In a time when one in four children in the United States is being raised in poverty, the need for effective and innovative programs is greater than ever before.

The organization is currently partnered with 20 and is exploring expansion options in Baltimore and Newark. Its partnerships are determined through a mutual selection process, and selected schools agree to hire and pay a full-time social worker to work with students and staff. Turnaround partners with local mental health providers and deploys a team to work intensively with the schools for between 3 and 5 years.

This team consists of a Social Work Consultant, and Instructional Coach, and a Program Director. Together, they help the school build a student support system to help children in need; train teachers in classroom management and instructional strategies to combat poverty-specific challenges like disruption and engagement; and strengthen the school’s leadership and achievement expectations.

“Some people believe we must fix poverty in order to fix public schools,” Turnaround writes. “We do not. We believe poverty presents profound but predictable and recurring challenges to students, teachers, and schools. This enables us to design a targeted, precise intervention to address them.”

Now Turnaround is preparing for its “Turnaround Impact Awards Dinner,” which will honor Goldman Sachs Gives for its generous giving spirit. The Goldman Sachs has a vast array of projects that it gives money to, features on its website, and encourages community members to get involved with. Past award recipients include Goldie Hawn, Joel Klein, John Legend and Merryl Tisch, among others.

This year’s gala will be held on Tuesday, April 30th. John Legend will give a special guest performance, along with some of the children involved with Turnaround. Speakers will include Joel Klein, Katherine Bradley, and Pamela Cantor. Chairs for the event include notable New Yorkers such as Cristina & Chris Cuomo, Lauren & Andres Santo Domingo, and Stephanie & David Wolkoff.

As of Monday, March 18th, Turnaround had already raised $835,650 of its $1.2 million or more goal. Tickets to the event are still available for purchase, ranging in price from $1,000-$2,500 per person. Full 10-person tables can also be purchased for $10,000-$50,000 each. Those interested in supporting Turnaround for Children can also make individual donations online.

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Profiles

J.K. Rowling Profile

J.K. Rowling
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J.K. Rowling’s story is one filled with strife and struggle and ending with stunning success. She’s someone we look to for inspiration when it comes to overcoming hardships and proving that hard work really does pay off. She is best known for authoring the renowned Harry Potter series, which propelled her from poverty into fame and fortune. But that’s not why we’re profiling her.

You see, J.K. Rowling gained billionaire status from the Harry Potter franchise’s success. As of 2011, she was estimated to be worth about $1 billion, enough to put her on the Forbes list of richest people in the world. But last year she lost that status—and not because of mismanagement.

J.K. Rowling is no longer a billionaire—because she donated so much money to charity. In 2011, she gave away about 16% of her net worth, or $160 million dollars. Perhaps it’s the fact that Rowling knows exactly what it’s like to be poverty stricken—she lived off of welfare at one point—that makes her more likely to give her wealth away.

When she spoke at Harvard’s commencement in 2008, she addressed poverty, saying that it “is not an ennobling experience. Poverty entails fear and stress and sometimes depression. It means a thousand petty humiliations and hardship.”

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Profiles Resources

Olivia Newton-John Profile

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Most people know Olivia Newton-John for her voice and her role opposite John Travolta in Grease. But since her Hollywood days, Olivia has connected with some of the more important things in life—like staying alive. A breast cancer survivor, Olivia Newton-John has spent much of her time in recent years supporting the cause.

“I am committed and excited about educating and encouraging women to take a positive role in their breast health,” the UK-born, Australian-raised singer says on her website. Though she’s won several awards for her incredible musical talent, performance is taking a back seat to philanthropy these days.

In the 90s, Olivia was diagnosed with and overcame breast cancer. After that battle, she produced GAIA, an album both self-penned and produced. It reflected upon her personal experiences with cancer and was the beginning of her openness with the public about her bout with cancer. Since then, she has been one of the most transparent celebrities promoting public awareness, education, and early detection.

Olivia Newton-John eventually partnered with Austin Health to create the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre (ONJCWC) in Melbourne, Australia. The ONJCWC includes facilities for treatment, education, training, and research and opened in June of 2012.

In order to fundraise for the center, “Olivia led a team of fellow cancer survivors, celebrities and Olympians on a trek along the Great Wall of China,” which raised over $2 million. She has fundraised on a global scale and has been recognized by the American Red Cross, the Environmental Media Association, the Women’s Guild of Cedar’s Sinai Medical Center, the Rainforest Alliance and Concept Cure for her philanthropic involvement.

Most recently, Olivia Newton-John launched the Liv Aid, which is a breast self-examination aid that helps women complete self-exams correctly. In doing so, she helps to catch more cases of breast cancer early and encourage women to take an active role in their breast health.

“I think when you go through an experience like cancer, it makes you really aware of vulnerability and your humanity,” she says. “And I think, as you get older, it’s a natural part of life to want to give back and help. And I’ve been so blessed in my life, and I’m so grateful for all I do have, giving back is just natural. It seems natural, don’t you think?”

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Resources

How Effective Are Galas at Raising Money?

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IMG: Land Rover MENA via Flickr

Gala benefits have received their fair share of criticism over the years, with many individuals complaining that they are an inefficient way to make money for organizations. Indeed, galas do take a LOT of volunteer time and money to put together, but there’s no question that they can also bring in stunning amounts of donations when carried out properly.

Gala benefits require staff—waiters, bartenders, auctioneers, DJs, and more—and it’s not always possible to find good Samaritans willing to volunteer, so part of the revenue must go toward paying those employees. If a gala is carried out correctly, though, costs should be minimized and donations should far outweigh them; if not, an organization could lose money hosting a gala.

Gala benefits are hosted for a few purposes. First, they tend to get people excited about a cause. Second, they might honor a particularly committed or influential donor/community member. Third, they raise money through tickets, auctions, and donations. One-time donations are popular among guests who aren’t overly involved in the organization, but it’s certainly possible that other more committed donors could emerge.

Donations at gala benefits may not be as altruistic as simply writing and sending a check, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Revenues will be smaller because of the cost of the event, but donors will get a chance to socialize and get each other excited about the cause. This can ultimately create more “buzz” and awareness within the community, which could attract new supporters.

When organizing galas, groups should be sure that the hosting committee is full of influential and affluent members of the community. People with better connections will create a bigger buzz and can attract more donors and attendees. Some of the biggest and best galas have been hosted by well-known names: Actress Sarah Jessica Parker (Dance By Design), Vogue contributing editor Lauren and husband Andres Santo Domingo (DKMS Linked Against Blood Cancer), and businessman François-Henri Pinault and wife Salma Hayek (Costume Institute).

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Profiles Resources

Adam Lambert Donates “Birthday”

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This year, Adam Lambert decided he didn’t need any gifts for his birthday. Instead of making his 31st a traditional celebration where people fawn and bestow unnecessary gifts, the birthday boy is asking that anyone wanting to wish him a happy birthday instead donate to the We Are Family Foundation (WAFF).

Lambert is exercising his philanthropy bone by encouraging his fans to donate $31 to WAFF in exchange for which they will be able to record a short birthday greeting to send to him. Those donating less than $31 will be included as well, and will get to sign the “world’s biggest” birthday card.

It would seem that so far, Lambert’s proposal has paid off—the foundation has already received over $16,000 in donations for his birthday. Apparently fans just need to be encouraged a little bit to be more charitable. It also helps that WAFF is a heartwarming organization on a powerful mission.

WAFF is a nonprofit “dedicated to the vision of a global family by creating and supporting programs that inspire and educate the next generation about respect, understanding and cultural diversity—while striving to solve some of our biggest global problems at the same time.”

The foundation strives to bring peace to people of all cultures, and to connect us together by reminding us of our common bond of humanity. Lambert will be honored at the WAFF 2012 Celebration Gala with the Unity Award. The Gala will be hosted by Rosie Perez and Toure and will take place at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York on Thursday, January 31st. He is also set to perform with Nile Rodgers at the gala.

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Buddhist Organization Donates $10m

Tzu Chi Logo
IMG: Twitter/@tzuchicanada

Natural disasters are things that tend to bring out the very best and worst in people. For the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, alongside some other religious groups, it was a chance to let their colors shine and bestow some major goodwill on NYC.

Tzu Chi has managed to raise $10 million, and they plan to give it all to victims of Superstorm Sandy in New York City. Individual donations from around the world are what make it possible for Tzu Chi to hand out $600 to qualifying families in the form of a Visa debit card.

Volunteers from Tzu Chi have been combing the hardest hit areas of the city, seeking out eligible families that are in need. They also have a hotline available (877-889-8277), which storm victims can call to find out if they qualify.

The foundation has already handed out cash cards to close to 2,000 families in six districts around NYC. 400 volunteers were sent to Lindenhurst, Hamilton, Lower Manhattan, Staten Island, South Toms River, and Atlantic City to distribute the cards on November 11th. Victims of the storm were “extremely moved by this generosity,” according to an article on the Tzu Chi website.

Volunteers also distributed blankets and bags of necessities to the families, some of whom were “moved to tears, saying that it was like an infusion of blood that would save their life.” Many of the now victims have said they will become donors to the cause once they are back on their feet, so they can keep the goodwill going and help others as they have been helped.

Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation in the U.S. was founded in 1984. Since then, they have expanded and grown to have over 80 offices across the country. There are more than 100,000 volunteers actively working within the organization to provide support and make a difference to their communities. They were the first organization to provide cash relief to families affected by 9/11, gave over 4.2 million in donations to victims of Katrina, and helped nearly 50,000 families after Haiti’s major earthquake in 2010.

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Resources

Donating During the Holidays

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We’re once more in the middle of the holiday season, which brings joy to many of us, sorrow to some of us, and an excess of “stuff” to lots of Americans, who are expected to spend about $750 per person in the coming month. Altogether, holiday spending will be over $550 billion this year—and that’s a lot of money.

But let’s stop for a moment and think about what the holiday season looks like for all Americans. True, most of us will spend time with friends and family starting around Thanksgiving and continuing into the New Year. We’ll give gifts, enjoy food that’s more extravagant than normal, and generally have a good time. But there are about 3.5 million Americans who, instead, will spend their holiday season homeless and wondering when their next meal might be. 12 million are still without jobs.

Next to that, spending $750 each starts to sound a little bit ludicrous, doesn’t it? Yes, some of those gifts will carry real meaning and sentimental value, but some of it will also end up in a closet somewhere within a few weeks, completely forgotten. Bruce DeBoskey of the Denver Post has an excellent article that talks about what would happen if each of us used just 10% of our holiday spending money on charity instead—and the result is phenomenal.

All totaled up, it would equal over $55 billion of funding for nonprofit organizations and charities. That’s the kind of money that has a lot of potential to change peoples’ lives. DeBoskey suggests the following for this year’s season:

  1. Have a family meeting to discuss giving 10% this year and decide where the money will go
  2. Give charitable gift cards that allow the recipient to designate which charity they’d like to give to.
  3. Buy gifts that directly support charities
  4. Volunteer your time to connect, engage, and learn
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Resources

Charity Navigator: Donate Effectively

Charity Navigator
IMG: via Charity Navigator

As Americans, we love to give. As  such, thousands and thousands of charities have cropped up, and they have become hard to sift through. Enter Charity Navigator, a non-profit organization that evaluates charities. Charity Navigator would like to help people give and help the charities receive. They find great charities that are working effectively, and they connect these charities with people who would like to give. Today, Charity Navigator has ranked more than 5,400 charities nationwide.

Charity Navigator rates charities based on two broad categories: Financial Health and Accountability & Transparency. These two categories reveal how efficiently charities will use your money, how committed they are to accountability, and how sustainable their visions are for the future.

Charity Navigator has compiled multiple “Top Ten Lists” for some of the top-rated charities, and they organize their rated charities by topic so that you can donate to causes that you really care about.

Want to donate to a great charity? Want to watch your money do real good? Find more tips for smart donating here.