Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Bono: Buying cookies for the starving millions

It's easy to point and scoff at Bono, but you'd have to admit, looking at the figures from the ONE charity quoted by the New York Post, that he knows how to get charitable donations in:

The Bono nonprofit took in $14,993,873 in public donations in 2008, the latest year for which tax records are available.
Fourteen million dollars. Blimey, that's a lot of cash. That'll help with the whole eradicating poverty and fighting Aids battle, right?
Of that, $184,732 was distributed to three charities, according to the IRS filing.
Hang on a moment... what? That's about one per cent of the total. Really?
Meanwhile, more than $8 million was spent on executive and employee salaries.
The rest seems to have been pissed away on press packs and marketing, like the little stash sent to journalists covering the UN Summit on the Millennium Development Goals:
The items were part of a pricey pile of puzzling loot, which [alongside a cookie] also included a $15 bag of Starbucks coffee, a $15 Moleskine leather notebook, a $20 water bottle and a plastic ruler.

The stash came in four, oversized shoe boxes, delivered one at a time via expensive messenger.
One's defence is that it is an advocacy group, rather than doing charity work. It does say that on its website:
At ONE, we believe the fight against poverty is not about charity, but about justice and equality.At ONE, we believe the fight against poverty is not about charity, but about justice and equality.
Although it also is, erm, a charity in part: is a project of ONE Action, which is an advocacy organization under Section 501(c)(4) of the United States Internal Revenue Code. ONE Action seeks to raise public awareness about the issues of global poverty, hunger and disease and to ask our leaders to do more to fight these problems in developing countries. The ONE Campaign is our related Section 501(c)(3) charitable and educational organization.
So, it's not about charity, but it has a charitable organization. That's clear, then.

There's nothing constitutionally wrong about what One is doing, but that suggests there's a problem with the way One is constituted.

A grassroots advocacy campaign. Which takes in donations and turns them into free, expensive swag for journalists. Millions of dollars spent advocating writers have a nice coffee break with a delicious cookie. All a little rum, isn't it?

[Thanks to Karl T and Michael M for the link]