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Posts Tagged ‘donation’

Ice-BagSeemingly out of nowhere it has become all the rage to video one’s self making a pitch for ALS and dumping a bucket of ice water over one’s head.  Celebrities?  Fuggedaboutit!  This ritual is virtually required for them to remain in the public eye.  Ordinary citizens?  Everywhere.  Even one of my more conservative and reserved partners has humiliated himself with this test.  And lest you think the insanity is limited to the United States – think again.  Just this morning I saw the two kids of an Australian Facebook friend of mine dump an entire cooler over her head.   While it may be a fleeting fad, it is certainly having an impact – according to the New York Times, between June 1st and August 13th, participants have shared more than 1.2 million videos on Facebook of themselves partaking in this somewhat odd activity and have mentioned the phenomenon more than 2.2 million times on Twitter. 

WHAT IS GOING ON?????

Basically, the “Ice Bucket Challenge” is a brilliant, grassroots marketing idea that originated earlier this spring before being tied to ALS.  It works like this – A “friend” challenges or nominates you to participate.  Once challenged, you have 24 hours to do the deed, video yourself doing so, and post it on a social media site like Facebook or Instagram.  If you don’t participate, well, you are then shamed into donating $100 to the cause.  If you do participate, you’ll probably give even more!  When you post your video, you then challenge others to do the same.  It’s not unlike a multilevel marketing scheme and it’s big time – check out this motley crew if you don’t believe me – former President George W. Bush, singer/songwriter Carole King, entrepreneur/philanthropist Bill Gates, athlete LeBron James, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (come on, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, where are you?), self-promoter Kim Kardashian, and fallen teen idol Lindsay Lohan.  The good, the bad, and the ugly – the list goes on and on, but at this point I’m tired of inserting hyperlinks about famous people.  I would embarrass some of my close associates, friends, and family who have participated, but I suspect that would not be much appreciated (although I did consider it Bob, Steve, and Sharon)! 

The serious part, of course, is the cause – raising awareness of the disease and the funds to fight it.  ALS is more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, a debilitating condition that attacks nerve cells and eventually leads to total paralysis and death within two to five years from the date of diagnosis.  30,000 Americans are afflicted with this condition, but prior to the challenge, public awareness was fairly low.  Now?  Well, the numbers don’t lie.  According to a recent press release from the ALS Association

As of Wednesday, August 27, The ALS Association has received $94.3 million in donations compared to $2.7 million during the same time period last year (July 29 to August 27). These donations have come from existing donors and 2.1 million new donors. The ALS Association is tremendously thankful for all of the generous support and awareness that this summer phenomenon has generated for the cause.

Wow!  Truly impressive!  Certainly, we can’t expect such a fundraising pace to keep up, but for now it is a shot in the arm for the ALS Association.

Yes, there are critics and cynics.  There always are.  And each of us has to decide for ourselves what causes we support and play a part in.  But the runaway success that the ALS Association has experienced underscores a very important point.  Donors must be engaged at a level that works for them in order for them to open up their wallets.  This silly little ice bucket ritual, made possible because of the social media revolution and cheap video, has gone viral and grabbed millions because it engages folks at a very basic level and makes them feel part of something far bigger than themselves.  It’s not the same as donating a bunch of money to a university and getting your name on a building, but it plays on the same emotions – the need for recognition and a desire for personal satisfaction.  Engagement can be built in many ways.  How about all the groups that sponsor some form of physical activity requiring sponsorship (fundraising) to participate?  In the past, I have participated in Team in Training, the Leukemia and Lymphonia Society’s approach to physical fundraising.  In my case, I rode in a “century” bike ride (100 miles).  Truthfully?  I signed up because I wanted to do the ride, and TNT/LLS seemed like a decent organization.  I wasn’t particularly connected to the cause.  TNT/LLS provided three months of on-the-road training and plenty of encouragement and camaraderie.  The fundraising commitment was fairly steep but I accomplished it and, guess what?  I am now a fan for life of LLS.  My awareness of blood cancers was raised while my desire for engagement was satisfied. 

In this hyper-connected and frenetically paced world, all organizations have to find ways to stand out and be noticed.  It’s not easy by any stretch.  Those who are successful know that it’s not just about raising money – it’s all about engagement.

Enjoy Labor Day 2014!

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I recently read the book With Charity for All – Why Charities Are Failing and a Better Way to Give With-Charity-for-Allwritten by former NPR CEO Ken Stern.  It is an interesting read, at once depressing yet oddly optimistic about what “could be” in the philanthropic world.  To those who are not philanthropy geeks, much of what Stern flags as issues may come as a surprise – a fair number of so-called “charities” act far more like profit making businesses than not-for-profits and if examined closely, may not pass for charities by anyone’s objective measure.  For example, he cites the nation’s many large, well-endowed not-for-profit hospital systems which, in terms of services provided for the poor, are virtually indistinguishable from their for-profit brethren.  For details and statistics supporting this conclusion, I suggest you read the book, but in summary, his points are clear:  “The issues….have substantial economic consequences.  Hospitals are the single largest component of the charitable sector and the value of tax incentives is enormous…..While estimates vary, the value of local, state, and federal tax incentives to nonprofit hospitals almost certainly exceeds $20 billion a year……Since charitable hospitals return only a fraction of that in charitable care, it raises the possibility that the public would be far better served by removing or reducing the subsidy and using the savings to buy better health care from the best and most efficient providers.  And it raises the question:  when a charity stops being charitable, does anyone notice?”

At the other end of the spectrum, Stern is also critical of charities which, unlike health care delivery systems, do not perform critical social functions.  He cites the various college football “bowl” games that have proliferated around the country stating:  “It is no doubt puzzling to most Americans that this string of open-air parties, football games and corporate promotion events have the same charitable designation as Habitat for Humanity, Teach for America, of the local food bank.”   It was not only puzzling for me, but a complete surprise!

This is just a small taste.  As I said, the book is frequently depressing, especially for optimists like me who believe that well run charities can truly change the world.  But it is also well written, easy to read, extremely thought provoking and well worth a few hours of your time.  While there are certainly things we as a society can do to better police abuses in the charitable world, there are also many things we can all immediately do to have an impact, and Stern gets prescriptive about this in the final chapter of the book:

  • Resist the old ways.  Think of charitable giving more in terms of investing for social impact.  Ignore overhead and administrative ratios or at least put them in proper perspective.  Focus on the end customer of the charity and whether s/he is being served by that charity.  Base charitable giving not on personal connections and relationships but on objective evidence of effectiveness (admittedly, hard to find).
  • Look for indicia of quality.  Identify top performing organizations not just by looking for four star ratings on Charity Navigator, but by finding those that are crystal clear about their goals and transparent about their research results on their websites.  Look for growth.  Look for charities that worry less about overhead and more about results.
  • Do the work.  “Average Americans spend more time watching television in a single day that they do on their charitable contributions in an entire year.  Like financial investing, social investing takes work: researching charities, reviewing websites and published reports, and sharing information among friends, peers, and other like-minded givers.”
  • Follow the leaders.  Signalers in the financial marketplace exist; they exist in the philanthropic marketplace as well.  People swear by the Oracle of Omaha (Warren Buffett) as the messiah of investing, so why not Bill and Melinda Gates as the bellwethers of philanthropy? Or organizations like GiveWell (a research organization), New Profit (venture philanthropy), and the Robin Hood Foundation, all of which are committed to careful research and analysis.
  • Pool donations.  This is an interesting concept – the idea of a philanthropic “mutual fund.” Pool the funds and let the professionals do the heavy lifting.  While options for this retail approach are extremely limited right now, it may be an idea whose time has come.

For those who are serious about philanthropy, it is advisable to think of the private foundation or donor advised fund not as a charitable pocketbook but as an investment portfolio that needs to be tended on a regular basis.  We chastise politicians who think that the solution to most problems is to throw money at them, yet many of us approach our own philanthropy in just that manner.  Perhaps the family foundation of the future will build its own infrastructure for more effective assessment and monitoring of the charitable projects in which they invest.  Perhaps the philanthropist of the future will become more coldly calculating in his/her approach, looking for solutions instead of stopgap measures.  And why not?  We do it in business all the time, relying on creative destruction to take us to the next economic level.  Perhaps what the charitable world needs right about now is its own little bit of creative destruction.

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Philanthropy.  We, optimists, see it as a way to try to fix a broken world but somehow, no matter what we do, the world just stays broken!  But, then again, even assuming that we, as a society, can actually agree on which social ills need fixing… is philanthropy the way to do it?  Many people would argue that society’s ills are just too great for philanthropists to tackle without massive governmental assistance.  Others would argue that government creates more drag on the social system than the ills it cures.  So, what is the answer?

Perhaps it lies at the intersection of philanthropy and capitalism. Marketing and strategy

In 2010, an innovative financial instrument tied to the achievement of social goals made its appearance in Great Britain.  Called a “social impact bond” (SIB) the concept combined private investment with a specific government-sponsored project designed to achieve a certain social goal.   If, according to predetermined metrics, the goal was achieved, the investors would get some or all of their money back along with a rate of return.  If the goal was not achieved, the investors would lose their money.  Any repayment of the debt would come from the savings in costs enjoyed by the sponsoring governmental unit.

Such bonds are in the truly embryonic stage here in the United States and given their complexity and risk profile, may have a hard time gaining traction as real investments.  At this point, Massachusetts and New York lead the nation in their development but, even there, the concept is experimental and little more than a dip of the toe in the water.  Nevertheless, if some of these projects can be even partially successful, the way could be paved for the development of a new form of social investing.

Now, of course, such funding is not philanthropy, since a positive rate of return is expected and desired.  Instead, SIBs are profit-driven investments whose success is based on the attainment of socially desirable goals.  For those of us who believe in the financial market, it is the possibility of this rate of return that makes the very idea of SIB’s a potentially viable alternative to plain, old fashioned “tax and spend” government social programs.  Let’s use New York City’s Social Impact Bond, the first operational SIB in the US, as an example.  Its goal was to fund a program called the Adolescent Behavioral Learning Experience (ABLE) at the city jail at Rikers Island.  ABLE aims to equip incarcerated adolescents between the ages of 16 to 18 with the social and emotional skills needed to help them make better life choices when they leave jail.  The theory is, the ability to make better life choices will lead to reduced recidivism, which will lead to reduced financial and other costs to the City.  To be sure, I would call this a true “BHAG” (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal) but certainly one worth pursuing at some cost.  In a nutshell, here’s how it works:

  • In this case, the commercial lender/investor is the Urban Investment Group of Goldman Sachs Bank USA.  Their investment of $9,600,000 was turned over for administration to the intermediary, MDRC, a nonprofit social policy research organization. MDRC worked with the various partners to identify the project and negotiate the terms of the SIB.  In addition, it currently oversees the day-to-day implementation of the program.
  • Bloomberg Philanthropies is the philanthropic investor, which has provided a grant of $7,200,000 to partially repay Goldman Sachs if the project fails.  If the project is successful, the money will be rolled forward and used to backstop future projects.
  • The Osborne Association and Friends of Island Academy actually administer the ABLE program at the jail.  They are the boots on the ground, so to speak. 
  • The New York City Department of Corrections has agreed to repay the loan based on the inmate participation rate and the resulting rate of reduced recidivism (as defined). 
  • To keep everyone honest, the Vera Institute of Justice serves as the independent evaluator who will determine whether the project has achieved the desired goals. 

The project was started in 2012 with a five year window.  Several things have to happen in order for Goldman Sachs to be repaid:

  • Over the first four years, there must be a minimum of 9,420 participants in the program
  • If recidivism does not decline by at least 8.5%, there will be no payback
  • Reductions in recidivism between 8.5% and 10% will cause one half of the investment to be repaid
  • A 10% reduction will be the investor’s “breakeven”, with the full $9,600,000 being repaid, but with no additional rate of return
  • Above 10% will cause “success payments” to be made, which essentially represent the rate of return on the investment

Interestingly, even with a 10% reduction in recidivism, the cash savings to the taxpayer are estimated to be less than $1,000,000.  On a purely financial basis, this does not make sense.  In fact, the financial investment breakeven from NYC’s viewpoint occurs with a recidivism reduction of around 15%.  While the hardheaded financial analysts among us might find this “new math” a bit hard to swallow, one must realize that a successful social program will produce many other, not-so-easily-quantifiable benefits, such as safer neighborhoods and a more productive workforce.  Certainly an argument can be made that these goals are just as important as the hard dollar cost savings enjoyed by Rikers Island.  At this point, however, the jury is out on its overall effectiveness.

What struck me in a negative way about this project was the sheer audacity of the goal compared to the extraordinarily meager investment.  I mean, c’mon – $9.6 million from Goldman Sachs?  It’s barely a rounding error on their balance sheet, so where is the real risk?  Nevertheless, I am rooting for its success.  The fact is, as a society we need to employ out-of-the-box thinking to more seriously address such social issues, which is pretty difficult in these resource-constrained times.  Investing a few bucks to reduce recidivism?  Let’s give it a shot – it’s gotta beat banning large sugary sodas at the bodega!

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Earlier this year, I wrote about a very troubling subject in the philanthropic world in my blog, “Who actually owns that private foundation?”  (2/20/2013).  The post generated a fair number of comments from philanthropic advisors who confirmed that it is, indeed, a sensitive topic for donors.  The donors feel that, until the funds held in the private foundation are expended for charitable purposes, they (the donors) retain full control and can do pretty much what they want with them.

 

WRONG!

 

The self-dealing rules under IRC §4941 greatly limit the ability of “disqualified persons[1]” to do business with or generallychix benefit from a private foundation.  This includes the sales or leasing of property, lending of money, furnishing of goods, services, or facilities, payment of compensation or expenses, transfer of income or assets of the foundation to the disqualified person, and any payments to government officials.  These limitations seem fair enough and we discussed a couple of them, including the payment of compensation to disqualified persons in the earlier blog.  But, like anything else in the tax law, there are exceptions and there can also be exceptional (read: oddball) results.  For example, consider the “rubber chicken” dinner.  You’ve been there, right?  Because of your unwavering support for your favorite charity, but mainly because your Rolodex reads like a “who’s who” in the rarefied world of generous high net worth donors, the charity offers to honor you at its annual journal dinner dance.  As part of the deal, you agree to pay $5,000 for a table of ten, $1,500 of that would be tax deductible.  What is the best way to handle this financial commitment?

  1. You should use your family’s private foundation to pay for the tickets and invite your relatives to fill the ten spots at the table. (Clue:  Not the right answer)
  2. You should leave the foundation out of it altogether and pay for the table using personal funds.  You will be able to claim a $1,500 tax deduction on your personal tax return (subject to certain limitations). (Clue:  This answer is red hot.)
  3. Bifurcate the transaction.  You pay the non-tax deductible piece ($3,500) and the foundation pays the deductible piece ($1,500) under the theory that it is tax deductible anyway and therefore a proper expenditure for the foundation.  (Clue:  Points for creativeness but alas, this answer is also incorrect.)

 

As noted, choice B would generally be the correct choice because it avoids any hint of self-dealing.  As incredible as it might sound, choice A would most likely be considered an act of self-dealing because, simply stated, something of value (the rubber chicken dinner) was secured by the foundation for the benefit of disqualified persons.   And choice C, while pretty creative, fails the smell test too because, as the IRS likes to point out, the admission is a fixed price that includes both a fair market value and a charitable element – and one cannot exist without the other.

 

While these results may seem odd, the rules, themselves, exist to protect the integrity of private foundations.  Donors must accept the limitations as a cost of doing business.


 

[1] Disqualified persons include substantial contributors to the foundation, foundation managers, a more than 20% owner of an entity that is a substantial contributor, family members of any of these, and certain other entities.

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Extra, extra, read all about it!  There’s good news, and there’s bad news.  First, the good news:

  • According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, more of America’s billionaires are starting to give away their fortunes before they reach middle age.  Among 2012’s top 5 philanthropists were 3 couples under the age of 40.  (Mark Zuckerberg, 28, Facebook founder along with his wife Priscilla Chan, 27 – $498.8MM; John Arnold, 38, founder of hedge fund Centaurus Energy and his wife, Laura Arnold, 39 – $423.4MM; and Sergey Brin, 39, Google co-founder and his wife Anne Wojcicki, 39 – $222.MM).

 

Life is changing.  Drawn to the possibility of influencing social issues for decades to come, the young and super-rich are turning philanthropy into a newlywed activity instead of a deathbed one.

 

But now the bad news:

  • The top 50 donors on the Chronicle’s list committed a total of $7.4 billion to charity in 2012.  The median gift was $49.6 million, down significantly from 2007’s high of $74.7 million.

 

OUCH!

 

Other interesting factoids:

  • As with everything else wealth-related in this country, the results are skewed on the high end.  The top 3 donors out of 50 on the list accounted for more than 50% of the assets committed to charity from the whole group.  The top donor, Warren Buffett, 82 years old, gave $3.1 billion to three family foundations, the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, the NoVo Foundation, and the Sherwood Foundation. By itself, this $3.1 billion represents 42% of the top 50’s contributions.
  • 72% of the dollars pledged went to big, elite institutions of higher education, arts and culture, hospitals, and private foundations.
  • On the flip side, community foundations won eight gifts from top donors last year totaling about a billion dollars.  This was more than the total of the last 10 annual lists compiled by the Chronicle!  Way to go, community foundations!
  • And, most importantly — today’s philanthropists are choosier about where they give and demand workable plans for long term results.  For example, in the past, a donor supporting college scholarships might have been interested in how many recipients actually graduated as a result of his/her gift.  Today, many of these same donors want to know about the long term results of their “investments” – for example, how the recipients are doing years after entering the professional world.

 

This is all good stuff, but it also points out that, while philanthropic giving in this country is significant, it pales when compared to governmental outlays and the overall gross domestic product.

 

To illustrate:  According to Giving USA, in 2011 Americans gave $298.4 billion to charity, which was up 4% in current dollars over 2010 but only up .9% in inflation adjusted dollars.  It is too early to tell what 2012 looks like vis-à-vis 2011, but early indications from BlackBaud are that we will see a similar result – around $300 billion.  Any way you slice it, that represents only 10% of expected total US Government budget outlays for fiscal year 2013 ($3,803 billion) and only about 2% of expected gross domestic product ($16.335 billion).  My point in citing these numbers from President Obama’s 2013 Budget Message to the Congress is not to start a debate on the integrity of the numbers themselves, but to try to put an order of magnitude to the issue.  Only 2% of estimated GDP is contributed to charity – compared to 10% expected to be paid out by the US Government for the entitlements of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.  It has been suggested that cuts in social programs can be made up by increases in charity.  My simplistic analysis suggests otherwise, particularly given the less than robust growth in charitable giving in recent years.

 

Because philanthropy is a market like any other, it is naïve to think that private donors can replace government as the permanent provider of the social safety net.  Private donors have the power of choice to fund those programs that speak to them and to ignore others, and that is how it should be.  The “marketplace of philanthropic impulses” is neither government-controlled nor societally-dictated but evolves from donors’ perception of societal needs and is funded by those who want to try to fill those needs.  Because the investment decisions made follow the choices of independent and sophisticated donors, the application of philanthropic capital to societal needs will be erratic, at best.  The social safety net cannot be significantly replaced with such a market-based solution.  But it, as well as other worthwhile charitable causes, can certainly be enhanced by robust private charitable giving.

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donor

 

I am going to use the graphic in this and future posts to illustrate the use of tax and legal tools and techniques in charitable planning.  The Philanthropic Continuum is what I call the evolutionary path from casual donor, giving when asked but without much thought, to protophilanthropist, having a more formalized view of giving, to serious (or serial) philanthropist, where truly significant gifts and amounts are involved.  We all fall somewhere along this continuum; those who are serious about their philanthropy will take steps to move further using some or all of these techniques.  That’s not to say that a serious philanthropist cannot achieve all his/her goals using mainly cash, it’s just to say that the “3E test” – effective, efficient, and elegant – may make some of these other tools and techniques more desirable and useful in philanthropic planning.

 

For example, the Charitable Gift Annuity (CGA) is a terrific way to have your cake and eat it too.  It has particular use in the philanthropic portfolio of a family where one spouse is gung-ho about making a significant gift to a particular charity while the other may have reservations because of lifetime cashflow concerns.  In many ways it is a lower end or beginner’s tool in that many charities will establish such accounts for as little as $10,000, kind of like a lifetime CD with charitable legs.  It is a contract between the donor and the charity whereby a gift is made to the charity in exchange for a guaranteed lifetime income stream.  Simpler to establish than a trust, assets are transferred directly to the CGA which is then administered by the charity.  The income stream may be immediate or deferred and is determined and set based on the donor’s single or joint life expectancy.

 

Before you even go there, realize that comparing a CGA to a commercial annuity is an apples and oranges comparison.  CGA’s are designed so that on average the charity will end up receiving 50% or more of the initial investment (and must receive at least 10% in order to generate a charitable deduction for the donor).  Commercial annuities obviously are not, so financially they may be comparatively better investments.  However, that is not the point.  The donor retains an income stream AND benefits a charity.  This split interest makes it a compromise investment between the donor and charity.  As long as the guaranteed payment is sufficient for the needs of the donor, the haircut should be inconsequential.

 

CGA’s are better investments for older donors as the payout rates tend to increase with age.  For example, current rates published by the American Council on Gift Annuities for joint lives of couples aged 50, 60, and 70 are 3.1%, 3.9%, and 4.6% respectively.

 

The following table details some of the advantages and disadvantages of CGA’s.  Additional information can be found in a recent article in Forbes Magazine or at the website of the American Council on Gift Annuities.

 

Advantages

  •   Converts an asset into an income stream benefitting the donor during life and the charity at the donor’s or beneficiary’s death.
  •   Converts an asset into a fixed stream of payments, an “anchor to windward” in the donor’s portfolio.
  •   Provides an immediate income tax deduction for the establishment of the annuity based on actuarial assumptions.
  •   Acts as a form of “installment sale” spreading out any capital gain on the sale of the asset over the life expectancy of the   donor.
  •   Removes the asset from the donor’s estate for estate tax purposes.

 

Disadvantages

  • Donor is relying on the financial health, discipline, and longevity of the charity – be careful of shoestring organizations!
  •   Longer term inflation can erode the purchasing power of the annuity.
  •   The ultimate charity is determined at the time the annuity is established.  There is no flexibility to change the charity down the line.
  •   Unlike a charitable remainder trust, which can be structured to minimize or eliminate any built-in capital gain, the capital gain associated with a CGA must be recoginized over the life expectancy of the donor.
  •   Not all states allow charitable gift annuities – check with your tax and legal advisors.

 

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I have a claim to fame.  I graduated high school with Alec Baldwin.  Yes, that Alec Baldwin.  Back then he was known as “Alex” to the guys and “Zander” (short for Alexander) to the girls.  Generally the girls drooled and squirmed when they spoke of Zander.  Back then he was a pretty good guy, too, although you may not know it by his current public persona.   I’ll leave it to you to decide which of us has aged more gracefully…

Massapequa (Long Island) Hall of Fame, Then and Now: 

ray

(Click to enlarge)

 

Anyway, I wouldn’t say that Alec is a friend as much as an acquaintance who does not necessarily remember my name.  After all, I only see him once every ten years at our high school reunions (Go Berner Bisons, Class of 1976 – the “Bisontennial Class!”)  Alec always plays the politician, working the room and speaking with everyone as if they were long lost relatives.  One year (2006 to be exact) Alec chatted up my wife about some charitable work he was involved in at the time providing money to day care centers so that “women like you can hold down jobs.”  My wife’s feelings vacillated between feeling insulted that Alec would assume that she required subsidized daycare in order to work and feeling complimented that she looked young enough to have daycare aged children.  But it got me to thinking – where do celebrities give their money?  And why does it matter?

 

Now, I know, this may be pretty far down the gossip chain for most people but guess what?  You too can find out quickly and easily whom these guys support.  http://www.looktothestars.org/ is a fun website where anyone can research these pressing issues.  Interestingly, however, there appears to be no information about the stars’ private foundations.  Alec’s mother, Carol Baldwin, heads up a public charity called the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund, Inc., which appears to be a family endeavor, but there was nothing listed about the Alec Baldwin Foundation (a large supporter of Mom’s charity).   For that juicy information I had to go to www.guidestar.com, one of the best charitable research sites out there.  I found that in 2011, Alec had contributed more than $3.5MM to the fund (up from $1MM in 2010) and the foundation apparently paid out almost all of that cash in the same year to a wide variety of arts organizations and environmental groups.

 

Another favorite son of Massapequa is the one and only Jerry Seinfeld.  The Seinfeld Family Foundation supports a fairly wide variety of Jewish causes as well education and human services.  Its 2011 990PF has not yet been posted, but in 2010, about $1MM came in and $1.8MM went out.  Nearly 65% of its grants went to an organization called Scholarship America, a nice chunk of change for any not-for-profit organization.

 

For charity geeks, this is pretty cool stuff – but it also shows you that PRIVATE FOUNDATIONS are the furthest thing from PRIVATE.  Wealthy individuals and families with charitable intent need to decide how important their anonymity is before using this type of charitable vehicle.  But other than providing fodder for those who wish to pass judgment pro or con on something that is none of their business anyway, how useful is this data?  Well, actually, it can be quite useful, particularly for smaller organizations that are trying to expand their contribution base and possibly get some good publicity but are not sure where to turn.  It is all public information and free for the asking and may make a huge difference, especially to those organizations with limited fundraising options.

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