Kanye West Gives Foundations a Bad Rap

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February 21, 2012; Source: The Daily

Hip Hop superstar Kanye West’s now defunct foundation, The Kanye West Foundation, spent over half a million dollars in 2010, but apparently none of that was in the form of grants to nonprofits. 2009 wasn’t a blockbuster giving year either, with only $581 donated to charities despite expenses totaling $553,826.

The bulk of the Kanye West Foundation’s dollars went to salaries and benefits. The other big line items were “professional fees” and “other expenses,” according to The Daily, which examined the foundation’s 990s for 2009 and 2010. You can see the breakdown of the foundation’s 2009 and 2010 income and expenses here.

While West himself donated $5,000 in 2009 and $88,501 in 2010, it’s clear that his money did nothing charitable. West did not speak publicly about his foundation’s lack of programming when The New York Times inquired about the rationale behind the foundation’s closing in April of 2011. Perhaps West’s charitable advisors should have taken a look at Fast Company’s five myths about celebrity charity, which NPQ has previously covered. The first myth listed was that “as long as you get someone famous, you’re golden.” In the case of Kanye West’s seemingly useless foundation, it seems that notion is indeed just a myth. –Kristin Barrali

  • L-H

    maybe you guys should stop having a go at kanye west? his heart was in the right place and he is not the person entirely in charge of the foundation. there would be a person or team whos job it is to handle the foundation’s money, there is even a person in charge of kanye’s own money. so don’t attack kanye west for trying to do the right thing

  • Margot H Knight

    Another sad example of a phenom I call I-Got-Mine Philanthropy. I don’t understand why the financial advisors to people like this don’t help them do a better job. Hard for me to believe that this is intentional on the part of the celebrity–the result of ignorance and greedy hangers-on.

  • Sean

    give me a break, why woould you make excuses for this fool. you are just as much of an embarrassment as he is.

  • Sean

    give me a break, why would you make excuses for this fool. you are just as much of an embarrassment as he is.

  • Someone Who Knows

    You may want to do a little more research Nonprofit Quarterly before taking a poorly sourced story and reprinting it. This story by the Daily is almost entirely false. A little research on your part could tell you that. I worked directly with this organization and know first hand what they did and didnt do. First the organization was not a grant making foundation, it was a programmatic one. Of course the Nonprofit Quarterly knows the difference right? The organization had 3 programs, 2 in LA and 1 in chicago. Those programs worked with literally thousands of youth during the time the foundation was open. You’ll note that the Daily article only has a 1 sentence quote from someone worked there. Why dont they have more information from someone who actually knows rather than outside “experts” speculating based on tax filings? Why, because I would bet that no one would speak on the record. Why didnt they also corroborate that the organization had programming? They could have done that easily by simply making a few phone calls to the places where the programming was done. Those organizations still exist. In fact one of them was the Chicago Public School district. The fact is that this article went out of its way to portray Kanye and this organization badly. It’s easy to do that when you present a portion of the picture and speculate. Also clearly an article that protrays Mr. West badly is a better sell than one that accurately describes the work of this organization. Sadly you dont make your publication look too strong when you just reprint inaccurate information. I would expect more from a publication that calls itself Nonprofit Quarterly.