Organizations Resources

Study Reveals Most Athlete Charities Not Up To Par

lamar odom
IMG: carrie-nelson /

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?”


Charity Drops Armstrong After Confession

lance armstrong
IMG: s_bukley /

The ripples from Lance Armstrong’s fall from grace are continuing on as more and more people seek to distance themselves from the cyclist. On January 17th, Armstrong had an exclusive interview with Oprah in which he answered her questions more openly and honestly than anyone expected. He admitted to doping throughout his career, something that has caused the revocation of all seven of his Tour de France titles and a lifetime ban from competing.

Two months ago, Armstrong distanced himself from Lifestrong, the cancer charity he founded. Most recently, Athletes for Hope has officially dropped the cyclist. Armstrong co-founded the charity six years ago with Andre Agassi and Mia Hamm as a way to encourage professional and Olympic athletes to “learn about and connect with existing charities rather than establishing their own foundations,” according to the Wall Street Journal. The charity has since removed Armstrong’s photo from their website and at least two “founding athletes” have already left the foundation because of his association with it.

The separation of AFH from Armstrong is said to be a mutual decision between the two. Mr. Agassi remains faithful to the organization despite the anger and sadness he felt at hearing Armstrong’s confession. He said, “the connection to Lance’s choice in his life is irrelevant to me as it relates to our mission and what Athletes for Hope is doing.”

The organization, however, still retains close ties with Livestrong and several people close to Armstrong, including his former lawyer, Mark Levinstein; his agent, Bill Stapleton; and Livestrong’s president, Doug Ulman.

In his interview with Oprah earlier this month, Armstrong agreed that he had made mistakes and should be punished, but didn’t think he necessarily deserved the “death sentence” of never being able to compete again.