A Bad Charity

Pop music star Sting is an original co-founder of the charity organization, Rainforest Foundation. The organization was formed in 1989 to combat the disappearance of international rainforests (big surprise). After a review by the watchdog Charity Navigator, it turns out Sting has some improving to do.

The Rainforest Foundation is ranked as one of the worst charities in the whole world. A brief examination of donations-to-expenditures will show why. The Carnegie Hall charity concert in 2006 put on by Rainforest collected some $2,156,989. Of that total, only $887,374 made it to the charity’s programs. The 41% efficiency of this example is a fairly consistent statistic for the stumbling organization.

So where is most of the money going? Savings. The organization is literally banking the majority of the millions it collects. Oh but there’s more.

The Rainforest Foundation holds charity concerts annually; in 2006 they sold tickets between $100-600. Meanwhile, the charity told the IRS that the tickets had a fair market value of only $45. This allowed the audience to claim the tickets as donations/gifts on taxes. The IRS is investigating this as we speak.

I find it amazing how many Hollywood people get caught up in these fad-charities. The list of contributors includes Robert DiNero, Tom Hanks, Ron Perelman, ect. Musical contributors include Lenny Cravitz, James Taylor, Sheryl Crow and Billy Joel to name a few (there’s also Will Ferrel but he’s comedy). I doubt these guys have any idea where their money goes (they probably just donate to feel good).

One of the 3 original founders, Belgian photographer Jean Pierre Dutilleux, left the charity in the early 90’s. Dutilleux has been criticizing the organization since then, saying it could even be worse than what we do know.

I have always been critical of charity organizations for making profit and not helping as much as they claim, but this is crazy…

~Not Albert Spear

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Published in: on May 5, 2008 at 3:15 am  Comments (1)  
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  1. As a fundraiser with the Rainforest Foundation UK for 6 years, I was privy to the workings of Stings fundraising machine and totally agree with your article about Sting hoarding money raised to protect the rainforest. A critical point to make is that the money from the concert is put into the Rainforest Fund, not directly to the Rainforest Foundation UK or Norway, which are independent charities. The Rainforest Fund acts as a private play fund for Sting and close family friends to direct to whatever charity takes their whim. The similarity between the organisations is only in the name and that is where it stops. The Rainforest Foundation UK and Norway are independent from the Rainforest Fund and have been campaigning successfully on behalf of forest peoples around the world for over 15 years. Their funding comes from many sources, including government, foundations, individuals, and as grant recipients from the Rainforest Foundation Fund. The fact that the Rainforest Foundation UK and Norway receive grants from their respective governments is testament to their genuine success at protecting the rights of forest peoples and their land, as well as recognising their transparency and adherence to strict governance controls that, for example, avoid the hoarding of vast amounts of money as practiced by the Rainforest Fund. Over the 6 years I was with the Rainforest Foundation UK, I was proud to be associated with the passionate people who worked there, and our partners who risked their lives in conflict prone areas such as Democratic Republic of Congo. During that time I was shocked at the way Sting and the Rainforest Fund would raise US$ millions in our name and sit on the money while our partners in rainforest countries struggled day by day to makes ends meet.


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