You’ve likely seen the ads in the Los Angeles Times featuring pictures of Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling and statements of all the good works of the Donald T. Sterling Charitable Foundation. But now the Times is reporting that the Foundation’s publicity far outweighed its actual benefits.
Some of the ads stated that the Foundation committed to making $10 million, $17 million, and even $20 million in grants. The numbers are far from the truth. According to tax records, between 2009 and 2012, the Foundation gave out $1.4 million.
Several of the leaders of the Foundation’s grant recipients who appeared in the ads have asserted that they were not asked before the ads ran. After the Foundation gave 100 Black Men of Los Angeles a $5,000 grant, ads ran with photos of the organization’s then-current president. The Foundation allegedly ignored the organization’s requests to stop using its name and logo in the ads. The group’s current president said that the organization felt it was being used to “get credit for helping the African American community” so the organization returned the grant and sent a cease-and-desist letter demanding the ads stop using the organization’s name and logo.
Similarly, the Times reports, after the Foundation pledged $10,000 a year for ten years to A Place Called Home, pictures of Jonathan Zeichner, the organization’s Executive Director, started appearing in ads. Perhaps Zeichner himself summed it up best: “We were a bit of a beard for him. Clearly those ads are about letting people know he is a good guy.”
As we blogged last week, even with all the scandal, some charities will continue to take money from Sterling and his Foundation. Andy Bales, CEO of Union Rescue Mission, explained: “We keep doing good with whatever revenue we get from sometimes imperfect people.”
Darren Schield, the Sterling Foundation’s CFO, maintains that the Foundation did not pay for the ads and had nothing to do with their content.