Jay-Z and Alex Rodriguez at their charity poker tournament in 2006. (Getty Images)
Alex Rodriguez' woes continue. A new Boston Globe review of IRS filings by more than 50 athletes found that the charity established by Rodriguez, as well as those by other notable players, gave far less than the expected percentage of their income to actual charitable causes.
Nonprofits are generally expected to donate 65 to 75 percent of their revenues to charitable causes, with the remainder going to pay whatever expenses and, if necessary, salaries of nonprofit employees. But according to the Globe, nearly half of the 50 athletes' foundations reviewed fell below that line.
Rodriguez was not the only athlete whose foundation failed to meet acceptable giving rules, but his was certainly one of the most notorious misses. In 2006, Rodriguez teamed with Jay-Z for a charity poker tournament that helped the A-Rod Family Foundation raise $403,862. (Final reported records often differ from the "big check" as posted above because of facility use and similar expenses.) However, the IRS reported that barely 1 percent of that total reached charities: $5,000 to Jay-Z's Shawn Carter Scholarship Fund and $90 — yes, ninety dollars — to a Little League baseball team in Miami. The organization then stopped submitting financial reports to the IRS, and was subsequently stripped of its tax-exempt status.
Other notable athletes whose charities fell short, according to The Globe, included Dodgers pitcher Josh Beckett, whose foundation gave only 37 percent of revenues, and Ravens receiver Anquan Boldin, whose foundation only passed on 17 percent of the amount it raised. And Roger Clemens' foundation reported donations of memorabilia and other items totaling 10 percent higher than the amount for which the jerseys, balls and so forth actually sold.
On the other hand, The Globe pointed out several instances of strong celebrity involvement in charity. 49ers quarterback Alex Smith passed along 91 percent of his received donations. Michael Phelps' foundation passed along 75 percent after some initial lean years, and Carmelo Anthony's passed along 87 percent.
The key to high rates of charitable donation, The Globe suggested, is a leaner charity, avoiding high-cost events like golf tournaments and private concerts in favor of smaller, cheaper charitable operations. The more money that is spent on lavish galas and officer salaries, of course, the less that's available for donation.
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