An analysis of federal tax filings reveals that in 2010, the Kanye West Foundation had expenditures totaling $572,383, with the majority going to salaries and other overhead expenses.
Meanwhile, the charity gave nothing to charity that year. According to its tax return, West’s foundation made precisely $0 in contributions, gifts and grants.
And this isn’t the first time the Kanye West Foundation has given celebrity charities a bad rap (no pun intended).
In 2009, it was slightly more frugal, spending $553,826 — but of that amount, just $583 went toward charitable endeavors.
Nonprofit watchdog group Charity Navigator suggests no more than 15 percent of a charity’s cash flow should go toward administration or overhead. The Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance recommends charities spend at least 65 percent of their total expenses on program activities.
The Kanye West Foundation failed to satisfy either of those standards. The majority of the organization’s expenses — $339,829 of it — was spent on salaries, wages and benefits.
Another $111,250 went toward “professional fees,” $56,920 on similarly ambiguous “other expenses,” and $48,385 on “travel, conferences and meetings.”
“The IRS would be very interested in those expenses,” said former IRS Exempt Organizations Division director Marc Owens, now a lawyer in Washington, D.C. “Sounds like they had a kind of a sloppy back office.”
West’s foundation listed just one program in the “Direct Charitable Activities” section of its 2009 and 2010 tax returns — its now-shelved “Loop Dreams” initiative, which taught kids about music production at two schools and one community center in Los Angeles.
Still, tax forms assert the program’s expenses were “0.” As in, no cost whatsoever.
Unlike his “Watch the Throne” tour mate, Jay-Z — who gave his namesake charity just $6,431 of the reported $63 million he made in 2010 — West did contribute to his charity’s bottom line.
The rapper personally donated $88,501 to his foundation in 2010. His company, West Brands, chipped in another $35,000. The combined $123,501 was more than donations from the foundation’s four other contributors combined.
Still, it wasn’t enough to keep the group’s balance sheet intact. The charity had $418,948 in savings at the beginning of 2010, yet ended the year with just $29,090 in the bank.
West shuttered the foundering foundation one month later.
Its official Web page is no longer working, but its Facebook page is still up, and the foundation remains registered as a non-profit with the IRS.
The foundation’s former executive director Joseph Collins told The Daily the charity is “in the process of being dissolved.”
West’s manager, Gabriel Tesoriero, did not respond to repeated requests for comment.