[QUOTE]STING'S 'WASTE FOREST'
By ISABEL VINCENT
May 4, 2008 -- This is nothing to croon about.
Rock star Sting's celebrity-studded Carnegie Hall charity concert in 2006 to save the world's rainforests raked in millions, but less than half the riches actually funded tree-saving programs, according to charity watchdogs and a Post review of tax records.
It's one of the prime reasons [B]the local arm of Sting's Rainforest Foundation is rated one of New York City's worst charities[/B], according to Charity Navigator.
The next in the series of annual Carnegie concerts takes place Thursday, and the lineup was scheduled to include Billy Joel, James Taylor and Brian Wilson.
The concert raises money for Sting's international charity, the Rainforest Foundation, and its US affiliate, Rainforest Foundation Inc., both housed in the same downtown Manhattan office.
Donors in the past have included Robert De Niro, Tom Hanks and billionaire Ron Perelman.
The 2006 concert - which drew Lenny Kravitz, Sheryl Crow and Will Ferrell to the landmark stage - [B]raised $2,156,989, according to the latest available IRS tax filing.
Yet only $887,374 of the money raised, 41 percent, was divided among the charity's eight programs that support native-land claims and forest preservation in Latin America and Africa - a paltry percentage, according to agencies that monitor nonprofits. [/B]
[B]A well-run charity, they said, typically spends 75 percent of revenues on programs. [/B]
"This one would fall to the bottom of the bucket," said Sandra Miniutti, a spokeswoman for Charity Navigator.
The watchdog - which rates 5,000 charities nationally based on management and fund-raising-to-giving ratios - [B]has slapped Rainforest Foundation Inc. with a zero rating for each of the last four years[/B].
Another problem is the charity's apparent hoarding of donations. In 2006, it reported $10 million in net assets - including nearly $5 million in cash - to the IRS.
Efficient charities, the watchdogs said, rarely bank more than what is needed to pay a year's expenses.
[B]"What are they doing with the money?"[/B] said Bennett Weiner, the director of the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance, after examining the fund's tax forms. "They have more than five times what they would normally spend in a year in reserves."
There is also a potential problem with the foundation's reporting of the value of its concert tickets. The charity sold the tickets for between $100 and $600 but estimated the fair market value at a mere $45 per ticket. This allowed buyers to write off most of the ticket price as a donation.
"If the receipts are wrong, donors could face IRS audits," said James Dellinger, an analyst for Capital Research, a watchdog group based in Washington.
The charity was founded in 1989 by Sting, his wife, Trudie Styler, and Belgian photographer Jean Pierre Dutilleux. At the time, the activists made international headlines when they helped Brazilian natives establish a preserve in the Amazon rainforest.
[B]Sting and Styler could not be reached for comment, and representatives for their two charities did not return repeated phone calls and e-mails.
When a Post reporter visited the downtown office last week, a receptionist said the entire staff was out attending a film festival. [/B]
Dutilleux, who left the organization in the early 1990s to work with rainforest charities in France and Belgium, has joined the chorus of critics.
"I have kept quiet for almost 20 years, hoping for improvement," he told The Post, referring to the allegations. "But enough is enough. Everything is true or worse." [/QUOTE]
The bottom line is these elitist musician/hollywood/Al Gore types don't give a flyin' #@*! about the rain forest, global warming, the spotted tree toad or anything else...."Goin' Green" means "Goin' $$$$"....What a bunch of phony bull$h!+
And by the way, Woody Harrelson and Don Henley....STFU!
Readers of this column know we frequently look into the finances of charitable foundations run by celebrities.
[B]The Rainforest Foundation, closely associated with Sting and his humanitarian cause-driven wife Trudie Styler, is one of our favorites. It’s squeaky clean and does an enormous amount of good in Third World countries.
That’s why today’s poorly reported piece in The New York Post was such a shock. The writer got it wrong, and left no chance for rebuttal. It was a smear, a hit and run. So let’s correct it.[/B]
The gist of the Post story — which was designed to embarrass Sting and Styler on the eve of the biannual Rainforest concert and fundraising dinner — was that the $2.7 million in gross receipts collected by the U.S. fund from the last concert and dinner should have gone directly to distribution.
This doesn’t even make sense. It would kill any long term objectives of the foundation. The concerts, Styler points out, are not like “Live Aid,” a one-time event, or the 9/11 Concert for New York. In those instances, the money is collected and immediately distributed.
“The Rainforest Foundation is celebrating its 20th year,” says Styler. “We wouldn’t still be in business or have given out millions of dollars over the years if we’d spent everything we made immediately after it came in.”
Several things the Post article did not comprehend properly: there is an overall Rainforest Foundation Fund that has satellite branches in the U.S., Norway and Great Britain.
Last year, the Rainforest Foundation Fund, Inc, the parent group, gave away $887,000 to a variety of needy groups in Africa and South America.
It’s the U.S. foundation that puts on the Carnegie Hall concerts. That money is then sent to the main foundation after minimal expenses for the U.S. office. Reporter Isabel Vincent didn’t report this at all.
Total revenue in 2006 for the U.S. office was $672,013; Of that, $376, 177 — or 55 percent — went to Rainforest programs.
Vincent also reported that a receptionist at the Foundation’s office told her “the entire staff was out at a film festival.”
Well, the entire staff comprises four people including the receptionist, the director, the program development director, and the accountant. Three of the four people were there when Vincent arrived without an appointment. (She’d been offered one but declined.) Both Michelle Petri and Athos Gontijo were present and saw Vincent.
The current director, Christine Halverson, was out, but not at the movies, as is suggested. She was moderating a panel on Indigenous Filmmakers from Brazil at the United Nations, translating Portuguese to English.
These four people, by the way, receive a total salary of $177,000. Halverson receives $68,500 a year. Compare that with, say, Joel Peresman of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He takes home $350,000 — and I don’t think he knows Portugese.
Ironically, on Tuesday Sting and The Police — separate from the Foundation — are set to make a stunning presentation to Mayor Michael Bloomberg regarding New York City and the environment. The Police have been exploring a way to make an environmental gift for months.