September 27, 2011; Source: National Post | This story is a good example of why it is important to follow up on stories. When the uprisings in Libya against the Qaddafi regime started earlier this year, the NPQ Newswire noted how well known academics such as Benjamin Barber and Michael Porter had significant business dealings with the Qaddafi regime and celebrities such as Usher, Mariah Carey, Beyonce, and 50 Cent had done private performances for the Qaddafi family receiving $1 million per show.
At the time, Canadian singer Nelly Furtado, who also got $1 million for her Qaddafi family performance promised to give her Qaddafi payment to charity. In our newswire, the others hadn’t made any announcements of what they would do, but later saw various reports from the other celebs that they would follow suit. But when? And for what?
Apparently, Nelly Furtado is the first and only celebrity in this group to have followed through. Earlier this week, she announced to a crowd of 18,000 people at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre, where she performed with the Kenyan Boys Choir, that she would give $1 million to the children rights charity, Free the Children (which sponsored the event).
Free the Children plans to use the Furtado donation to build a school in Kenya, which Furtado has visited at the charity’s invitation, and provide assistance with drought relief in East Africa. The school will provide room and board for 200 girls.
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The donation appears to be partly Furtado’s cash and partly fundraising. Apparently, she is actually pledging to do a dollar-for-dollar match of as much as $500,000 for fundraising by Free the Children for the school. Maybe the $1 million is really $500,000 from her pocket matching $500,000 in new donations, or maybe she is putting in another $500,000 toward some other Free the Children programming. The various articles are not clear.
Nonetheless, Furtado was the first of the celebrities to admit performing for the Qaddafi family (a 45-minute gig arranged by son Saif, who is currently engaged with scouring the Libyan countryside looking for potential supporters of his deposed father), the first to announce that she would donate her fee to charity, and the first to follow through on the pledge by actually giving money to a specific, named charity. Give the Canadian Grammy winner credit.
But it is a good reminder to all of us to look for the follow-through on charitable pledges by celebrities. After they score their PR points with announcements of their intentions, it is important for all of us in the nonprofit world to monitor to see that the pledges are fulfilled. —Rick Cohen