Highest Rated Comments

By-Jason-Wolf546 karma

I'm glad you asked this question.

There are Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award winners who "do it right," and sometimes that means not starting a charity at all!

Eli Manning partnered directly with Hackensack Meridian Health and raised $22 million for the children's hospital.

Larry Fitzgerald has a fiscal sponsorship with the Minneapolis Foundation, which means he does not have an independent 501(c)(3), but uses that established nonprofit's tax exempt status and legal framework as the backbone for his charitable efforts.

J.J. Watt has an independent nonprofit run by his mom. The JJ Watt Foundation reported $51 million in revenue and $49.7 million in expenses through 2020, including $48.3 million — or 97 cents of every dollar spent — on charitable activities.

These athletes and their nonprofits are highlighted in Part 5 of the story, which focuses on nonprofit successes and solutions to the ongoing issues players face in the nonprofit sector.

I hope this project helps to make a positive impact. It was never my goal to embarrass people who mean well.

By-Jason-Wolf526 karma

Russell Wilson's Why Not You Foundation.

The nonprofit has directed less than 40 cents of every dollar spent toward charity over its first eight years of existence, according to its federal tax records, and less than 25 cents of every dollar since Wilson was named the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year in 2020.

The reason why? The nonprofit has paid two executives exorbitant salaries compared to similarly-sized nonprofits in the Seattle area, including more than $200,000 a year for a chief strategy officer who also worked for the Wilson family office, which was not reported on tax records as required.

Nonprofit experts said this situation raises serious questions about the potential for excess benefit transactions and private inurement -- a criminal abuse of power resulting in private gain from a nonprofit's resources.

The Why Not You Foundation claims credit for money raised by "partner" organizations -- it points to $10 million raised for pediatric cancer research by Safeway/Albertsons from customers in grocery store checkout lines. But experts say this type of third-party fundraising does not justify the nonprofit's expenses.

Here is a free article we published as a follow-up, after Wilson posted a video on social media: https://www.azcentral.com/story/sports/nfl/2023/02/22/russell-wilson-why-not-you-foundation-others-respond-to-republic-nonprofit-investigation/69929647007/

By-Jason-Wolf486 karma

All of them!

What surprised me most was that so many NFL players start nonprofits without having the slightest idea what they're doing. They put well-meaning friends, family or business associates in charge, and they may not be qualified to run an efficient nonprofit. Or they hire for-profit companies that run everything, but take a huge chunk of the donations, leaving little for actual charity.

There are so many Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award winners who want to share their knowledge about nonprofit best practices and pitfalls to help young guys avoid the same issues that routinely occur -- like putting on fundraising events that lose money.

These players say the NFL, NFLPA, themselves and their peers could and should do more to educate themselves on the front end, especially since the league and union bestow their most prestigious awards for community service and philanthropy.

By-Jason-Wolf181 karma

Directly from the story:

The Russell Wilson Foundation, which does business as the Why Not You Foundation, reported it spent almost $600,000 — or just 24.3 cents of every dollar — on charitable activities in 2020 and 2021 combined and nearly twice as much, $1.1 million, on salaries and employee benefits in that span, according to federal tax records.

These expenses included $342,000 for an executive director and more than $430,000 for a second executive who also worked for the Wilson family office, the nonprofit confirmed, a relationship not disclosed on federal tax records, as required by law.

Additional insight:

It is not clear whether Ciara and Russell Wilson have donated their own money to the Why Not You Foundation, or if so, how much.

Wilson's agent and attorney, Mark Rodgers, who is one of the nonprofit's directors, declined to tell me because that "would be bragging."

By-Jason-Wolf152 karma

Precisely. It's easier and more efficient!