One Love, One Life, One … Percent?

Is it getting better
Or do you feel the same
Will it make it easier on you now
You got someone to blame
You say…

One love
One life
When it’s one need
In the night
One love
We get to share it
Leaves you baby if you
Don’t care for it

Did I disappoint you
Or leave a bad taste in your mouth
You act like you never had love
And you want me to go without
Well it’s…

Too late
Tonight
To drag the past out into the light
We’re one, but we’re not the same
We get to
Carry each other
Carry each other
One…

PERCENT?!?

A week ago today, the New York Post ran a piece detailing how U2 frontman Bono’s ONE Campaign gave only 1.2 percent of its revenue to charity, with the vast majority of what was taken in spent flying people around the world and paying salaries.

Here, read about it for yourself:

Nothing says, “Wipe out AIDS and poverty” like Band-Aids and a black-and-white cookie.

That’s what Bono’s $15 million nonprofit the ONE Campaign — which gives only a pittance of proceeds to its hunger and health causes — bombarded New York newsrooms with last week to get press for its push for billions in African AIDS funding from President Obama.

The items were part of a pricey pile of puzzling loot, which 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. The boxes were timed to arrive for the UN “Summit on the Millennium Development Goals,” which kicks off in Manhattan today.

ONE gives only a pittance in direct charitable support to its causes — something Borochoff said the average donor might not realize.

The Bono nonprofit took in $14,993,873 in public donations in 2008, the latest year for which tax records are available.

Of that, $184,732 was distributed to three charities, according to the IRS filing.

Meanwhile, more than $8 million was spent on executive and employee salaries.

I saw this a few days ago when the UK Daily Mail picked it up last Thursday, and at first I didn’t want to hold on to it because I figured it would be all over the news.  Big star.  Generous celebrity.  All-around great guy.   Only a little more than one percent of all funds are going to help the needy?  More than 50 percent going toward salaries and administrative expenses?  It should lead the eleven o’clock local news, right?  Wrong.

Regardless of the appalling lack of coverage, one thing is for certain — Bono should be absolutely ashamed of himself, as should all who have gone starry-eyed while looking at the television and buying into the farce that he’s somehow this altruistic savior.

Alex’s Lemonade Stand, a phenomenal Philadelphia-based charitable organization with a heartwarming backstory (check it out and donate HERE), only spends 10.6 percent on administrative expenses, while a full 85.2 percent of everything it receives is spent furthering its mission.  They spend a whopping three cents to raise a dollar.

The Mayo Clinic spends nine cents to raise a dollar, with 12.3 percent going toward administrative expenses.

And in the world of AIDS-related charitable work, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, which raised $119 million in 2008, spends only two cents to raise each dollar and spends only 10.1 percent of its revenue on administrative expenses.

Surely, we cannot expect all charitable organizations to run smoothly.  Surely, there are a few bad examples out there.  What amazes me, though, is that so many people think that our federal government should be a force in charitable giving.  Even Bono’s group did what it did in hopes of appealing to the Obama administration to send taxpayer money overseas.

Yet, anyone who has been in a post office or a Department of Motor Vehicles or even in the local municipal building to pay a parking ticket knows that government, at any level, is nowhere near efficient enough to spend only two or three or four cents in order to raise one dollar.  If anything, our federal government has cornered the market on spending one dollar to raise two or three or four cents, if that.  Heck, we’ve spent $862 billion and we’re still hemorrhaging jobs.

So, yes, when it comes to charitable giving, Bono sure isn’t the One.  And when it comes to government doing any better, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.

UPDATE:

In the interest of fairness, here is a press release from the ONE Campaign:

STATEMENT BY ONE ON RECENT MEDIA REPORTS
Sept. 23, 2010

Recently, there have been some confusing and inaccurate stories about ONE’s work.  So we wanted to set the record straight.

ONE does not fundraise from the general public and we do not receive any government funding. We are funded almost entirely by a handful of philanthropists on our board of directors to raise awareness and pressure political leaders to fight extreme poverty through smart and effective policies and programs.

With the exception of our annual ONE Africa Award, which is given to an effective grassroots organization in Africa, ONE does not directly fund charity projects in developing countries, work which is done well by other NGOs.

ONE’s staff of 120 policy experts, media professionals, and campaigners working in 7 countries around the globe carry out ONE’s work by:

  1. Educating people, including our 2 million members, about the crisis of extreme poverty and the solutions
  2. Encouraging the media to cover these issues
  3. Working with leaders and activists in Africa and the west to address structural issues, like trade, debt relief, investment and good governance, that are essential for countries to lift themselves out of poverty, and
  4. Pressing political leaders in the US, UK, Germany, Brussels, France and other countries around the world to pass and fund smart policies and programs that help lift people out of poverty.

ONE’s staff is the principle tool through which it fulfills these goals. Reports that have questioned why ONE spends a large percentage of our budget on staff fail to understand how ONE works. ONE’s largest funder, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, put out this statement today to clarify this point:

“ONE is not a fundraising group, but an important advocacy organization whose engagement of its two million supporters has helped to improve the lives of some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people,” said Tom Scott – Deputy Director of Communications for The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

ONE has been a relentless advocate and we are proud of the role we and our members have played in successfully fighting for smart, effective programs and policies that have saved lives and improved futures in poor countries.

As a result of those programs, today more than 4 million Africans have access to life-saving AIDS medication, up from only 50,000 people in 2002. Malaria deaths have been cut in half in countries across Africa in less than 2 years. As other examples of our work, ONE helped to successfully press for debt relief for Haiti after the devastating earthquake there earlier this year and played an important role in securing new US legislation requiring better transparency in the oil, gas and mining industries – an important step to ending backhanded deals between energy companies and corrupt politicians that hurt people in poor countries.

Speaking of ONE and its work, Norm Coleman, CEO of American Action Network and former U.S. Senator (R-MN), said:

“I’ve been familiar with ONE for several years and have the greatest respect for their accomplishments. Their sole mission – for which they receive no tax dollars, nor do they solicit contributions from the public – is to educate about and advocate for smart policies to help some of the poorest people in the world develop their communities and countries in ways that are sustainable — and stable. They have helped millions of people worldwide. To criticize ONE because it does not make direct charitable contributions is a bit like criticizing General Motors for not making iPods.”

The media kits that were mentioned in recent press stories, which were hand delivered by staff and volunteers to reporters in New York, were an effort to focus reporters on the Millennium Development Goals, a set of promises world leaders made to cut poverty, hunger and disease by 2015. In hindsight, the kits were not the best way to gain attention for the issues and we regret that sending them distracted from the work we are trying to do and the issues we care about.

Interesting, to say the least. But I’ll leave all of you to make your own decisions.

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Comments

  1. John Feeny says:

    As I pointed out a long time ago in one of my pieces, my wife is a huge ’80′s music fan….to a slightly uncomfortable degree. Don’t get me wrong, I love my wife; she’s an incredibly wonderful person. She does, however, tend to think that these people exist in the same everyday realm as the rest of us.

    So there, my love…pretentious punk (rocker).

  2. Sheila Feeny says:

    I am crushed….
    Glad I never donated to ONE
    He still rocks though!

  3. Pathetic says:

    One farce.

  4. chuck harrison says:

    Jeff,

    I was somewhat upset when I read your blog today. Not that I am a big fan of Bono, just that it seemed so unethical. I checked out ONE’s website and found this press release that responds to the Post’s article……. http://www.one.org/c/us/pressrelease/3522/

    I think you will change your mind if you take the time to read it.

    It turns out ONE is not really a charity. ONE is an advocate. Furthermore, ONE gets virtually all ist money from rich philanthropists who sit all yhe board. ONE claims they don’t get any government money or public donations.
    Ex Republican Senator Norm Coleman even praises ONE.

    Sheila can put her rose colored glasses back on.

  5. Boston Blackie says:

    Never trust someone whose eyes you can’t look directly into. Hey Bono, take off the shades already. I love the foundation’s excuse for the ONE percent. They are not raising money to give directly to those in need, they are raising money to draw awareness of the need for money!?!
    Give them credit though, they have truth in advertise. They are after all the One Foundation, as in one percent. I’d love to know how much of his own money he has donated to the cause.

  6. I often wondered what his “charitable” contributions were like…..considering he has done all but begged our leaders to give precious taxdollars to his causes. This is an outright disgrace. For someone who makes as much as he does, he should match everything any government parts with to hand over to these charities. He may make great music, but he reeks of hypocrisy.

    This reminds me of the Dems who want to take more and more of our money to give to their pet projects, yet their own charitable contributions pale in comparison to that of those “greedy” and “selfish” conservatives.

  7. Jeff Schreiber says:

    Thank you, Chuck. I’m not sure I’m convinced, but I nonetheless should have done my due diligence. The statement is up on the AR post.

    Jeff

  8. Boston Blackie says:

    Chuck,
    I for one am not convinced, he has the money for a good spin doctor. Bono has always played himself as the big savior of the underprivledged in Africa. He flys around the world in private jets demanding governments give millions to a cause he gives barely anything. People should check the facts, Bush 43 admin was the biggest contributor towards the causes in Africa yet you’d never know it listening to this phony. Typical bleeding heart limo liberal, do as I say not as I do.

  9. I can use the word red cutely, also says:

    (Red)istribution of wealth, to fat fat marketers and shysters. Money which would be better spent on education and medications, for the actual sick.

  10. Help the sick, thru me says:

    Bono, you-too??? ha ha ha ha
    This scam is getting really old.

  11. Anonymous says:

    (Red)irected dollars….. I smell tax write-offs.

  12. Dean says:

    I really get tired of people like Bono and his continuous “advocating” for $$$ for various entities, particularly his advocating for US $$$. This nation, through private and government funds and materials has, throughout its history, given more to help varous victims than all the other nations in the world combined. NO other nation and people given even 1% of what this nation and people give, even in today’s economic problems. Tsunamis, quakes, mudslides, hurricanes, volcanos …. this nation and people are there with help. When it happens here, we are on our own. Maybe Bono should go back to where he came from and get HIS country to match this country. Quite frankly, if ruled the world for a day, I would put it off limits to him and his ilk.

  13. Gail B. says:

    I’m sorry–I never heard of the guy until now. I’m too busy reading America’s Right and watching Fox News and the Texas/Mexico border.

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