A couple of days ago I wrote about the troubles for Le Bron James's charity foundation
. It made me wonder about other NBA player foundations. The Salt Lake Tribune has a fascinating piece
on NBA charities. They did an analysis of 89 stand-alone NBA player charities and found that while all together they reported revenue of at least $31 million between 2005 and 2007, only about 44 cents of every dollar raised (around $14 million of that $31 million) went to needy causes. Furthermore, the average NBA player foundation put just 51 cents of each dollar it spent toward charitable programs which is below the 65 cents most philanthropic watchdog groups view as acceptable. Some charities are well-financed and well run but many suffer from poor planning and inflated administrative costs. Part of the problem is that players put family members and friends on their boards and some hold fundraising galas that make a big splash but not a lot of money. About a third of NBA player charities analyzed instead remain funded by the athletes' own wealth. Player charities also fold because of lack of support or because athletes move on.
There are NBA charities that work. Former Houston Rockets center Dikembe Mutombo
was praised by President Bush in his 2007 State of the Union address for helping to build the first new hospital in the Republic of Congo, Mutombo's homeland, in 40 years. Some of these charities have budgets of over $1 million. Many however end up wasting money and finding themselves unsure of how to take the leap into making their charities publicly supported enterprises. Without hiring people who have experience in fundraising and nonprofit work, charities often find themselves floundering. The NBA and the NBA Players Association have begun to make education on starting foundations part of the league's annual rookie orientation.