Jay Z has once again turned lemons into lemonade. Instead of getting caught in the Barneys racial-profiling mess, he’s managed to take control and turn the controversy to his advantage.
The music mogul announced that he’ll take a “leadership role” on this “disturbing” issue and continue his partnership deal with the luxury store — but all the proceeds are now going to the Shawn Carter Foundation, which takes its title from the rapper’s real name.
Which got us curious about the foundation, otherwise known as the Shawn Carter Scholarship Fund— so we took a closer look.
The charity, founded in 2003, is dedicated to helping low-income students “further their education at institutions of higher learning,” according to its Web site. Since its inception, “over 750 students have received awards totaling over $1.3 million” in individual grants of $1,500 to $2,500.
Giving away $1.3 million over 10 years sounds like a small number, given that Jay Z is worth a reported $500 million. The foundation is run by his mother, Gloria Carter, who takes no salary from the part-time job. In the most recent IRS 990 records for 2011, the foundation lists $802,425 in revenue, $132,819 in expenses and $141,357 given out in grants and services, leaving a reserve of $528,249.
Perhaps the current headlines have spurred the organization to step up its game: “The Foundation is currently on the precipice of growth and is reviewing its current grant-making priorities as it plans for expansion as the Shawn Carter Foundation,” reads the Web site.
Erica Harris, an assistant professor at Rutgers who specializes in celebrity charity accounting, recently co-authored “The Relationship of Celebrity Affiliation to Nonprofit Contributions” with colleague Julie Ruth. The two found that both for-profits (such as Barneys) and non-profits did better when aligned with a popular star. In their study of 514 charities, donors gave 1.4 percent more to the charities, which averaged $100,000 per year.
That holds true whether the celebrity endorsed an outside charity or established their own. And only large donors ($10,000 or more) looked closely at executive compensation or the amount actually spent for the charity’s stated purpose. “Donors felt that the celebrities provided a seal of approval,” said Harris.
She gave us the top 15 celebrity charities rated by efficiency, meaning the ratio of money spent on the mission of the nonprofit to its total expenses. The top name: champion surfer Kelly Slater’s foundation, along with the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS foundation, Larry King’s cardiac foundation, the Jane Goodall Institute, Elton John’s AIDS foundation and charities headed by Boomer Esiason, Andre Agassi and Michael J. Fox.
Not on the list: the Shawn Carter Foundation. Reps for the charity did not return calls for comment.
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