Star-Studded Sing-a-Long Raises $5 Million for Historic Apollo Theatre

Star-Studded Sing-a-Long Raises $5 Million for Historic Apollo Theatre

Aug 26

Since it first opened in 1934, the Apollo Theatre has been a hotspot for African American culture—particularly music. Its amateur night has been the starting point for many big names in music, including Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Bill Cosby, and Lauryn Hill. These days, the theater relies on generous donations to keep its legacy going. That’s why billionaire Ron Perelman’s seventh annual fundraiser is so important. On August 20, Perelman’s “little barn in the Hamptons” was filled with big names from a variety of entertainment and business backgrounds, including comedian Chris Rock, singer/actress Jennifer Lopez, and private equity guru Henry Kravis. Guests paid $10,000 to mingle among the stars and hear live music performances by Lionel Richie (who led sing-a-longs to his hits), The Roots, Gwen Stefani, and Joe Walsh. But there was a purpose beyond fun—to raise funds for the Apollo Theatre. “We’ve got to break the divide between the haves and have-nots, the rich and the poor,” Perelman told his guests. “I think we can manage to do it with the arts….And the Apollo can do that better than any other institution I’ve been involved with.” The theater that was to become the historic Apollo was built in Harlem, New York in 1913 by Jules Hurtig and Harry Seamon. The two burlesque operators ran it as Hurtig and Seaman’s New Burlesque Theater. In 1928 Bill Minsky bought the building and renamed it the 125th Street Apollo Theatre. Even though Harlem was becoming the epicenter of African American culture by that time, audiences and entertainers at the theater were entirely white. That all changed on January 26, 1934, when new owners Sydney S. Cohen and Morris Sussman reopened the Apollo as a theater specifically meant to showcase black performance. Its “amateur night” became a popular feature, creating space for the first performances for many who went on to become big names in the music industry. The Apollo is now officially a landmark building, drawing an estimated 1.3 million visitors ever year. Perelman’s annual fundraiser provides the Apollo with regular funds—this year, about $5 million—to continue its support of the African American art scene in New York. Photo: Felix Lipov /...

Hated Celebrities and the Causes They Support

Hated Celebrities and the Causes They Support

Aug 24

It turns out that not all press is good press, because the negative press associated with these celebrities overrides the positive impacts they’ve made. Kanye West Maybe it’s that people still can’t get past the whole Taylor Swift feud, that or they can’t get past his enormous ego. Either way, Kanye West remains one of America’s most hated celebrities. But while the rapper has certainly engaged in some eyebrow-raising antics, his good deeds largely remain unknown. Among them is Donda’s House, an arts and music program that he co-founded with his mother back in 2005. The organization benefits at-risk youth by providing them with access to recording studios, writing workshops, and open mics. Donda’s House was named after Kanye’s mother, Dr. Donda, who passed away in 2007. Kim Kardashian Birds of a feather flock together. Kim Kardashian, who married Kanye West in 2014, caught some flak in 2013 for auctioning off her clothes on eBay, with only 10 percent of the proceeds benefiting the victims of Typhoon Yolanda. But what people may not realize is that Kim has been donating to multiple charities long before this incident ever took place. Charities she’s donated to include the Alzheimer’s Association, American Foundation for AIDS Research, the Dream Foundation, and the Humane Society. Justin Bieber Beloved amongst tween girls, hated by the rest of the American population, Justin Bieber can’t seem to catch a break even when he donates to noble causes. The pop star has given generous amounts of money to the ALS Association, the Food Bank for New York City, PETA, the American Red Cross, and World Vision. Miley Cyrus Originally famous for being Hannah Montana, Miley Cyrus has morphed into a twerking, culture-appropriating nightmare. But racist accusations aside, Miley Cyrus has supported a variety of different causes, including St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, the YWCA, Feeding America, and Habitat for Humanity. Simon Cowell Known for his brutally honest commentary on American Idol and the X Factor, Simon Cowell is cited as being rude, callous, and arrogant. But beneath the rough exterior, Simon actually has a heart, and even donated £25,000 to help pay for a three-year-old’s life-saving cancer treatment. But Simon has come under fire for his charitable donations in the past. In 2014, Simon gave $150k to Israel’s Defense Force, an act that angered pro-Palestinian...

For Animal Lovers: A List of Organizations Worth Giving To

For Animal Lovers: A List of Organizations Worth Giving To

Aug 23

There’s an animal lover in all of us. And yet, there are simply too many organizations, too many causes, and too many scams to make a person feel hesitant about giving to one. That’s why we did the research for you. Each charity listed has been given a 4-star rating (the highest rating possible) by industry watchdog Charity Navigator. WildAid “When the Buying Stops, the Killing Can Too.” WildAid’s famous conservation slogan has captured the attention of celebrity supporters, including Jackie Chan, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Kate Hudson. The organization tops the charts with an unbeatable 99.15 out of 100 score. Animal Welfare Association With an overall rating of 96.66 out of 100, the Animal Welfare Association’s (AWA) total revenue for 2015 was $3,073,759. 81% of the total revenue ($2,672,676) was spent on program-related expenses including spay and neuter programs, no-kill housing, and onsite veterinary care. St. Hubert’s Animal Center Located in New Jersey, this animal shelter received an overall rating of 96.25 out of 100 for their outstanding accountability and transparency efforts. St. Hubert’s has received national recognition for their 24/7 animal care services that are available 363 days a year. Society for the Improvement of Conditions for Stray Animals With 86.7% of all money going towards program-related expenses, there’s no doubt that this organization is dedicated to the services it provides. The organization’s number one goal is to prevent the euthanasia of animals by providing free spay/neuter services to low and middle-income families. Pheasants Forever Pheasants Forever concentrates their efforts on habitat restoration, wetland preservation, and the protection of prairies. Instead of working against hunters, Pheasants Forever works alongside hunters, farmers, and ranchers to conserve natural habitats. Detroit Zoological Society This dedicated team of zookeepers, veterinarians, and ambassadors travel around the world to rescue endangered species. For every dollar donated, 86 cents will go towards animal care. With a total revenue of $44 million, there’s no doubt this organization has, and will continue, to make a huge...

Flooding in Louisiana: Organizations To Give To

Flooding in Louisiana: Organizations To Give To

Aug 22

Almost 7 trillion gallons of water dumped down on Louisiana in one week. The U.S. Coast Guard, National Guard, and local emergency responders had to rescue 30,000 people and 1,400 pets. 40,000 homes suffered damage from the water. This catastrophe is the worst natural disaster to occur in the U.S. since Superstorm Sandy five years ago, and people are still recovering from that disaster. In the wake of these floods, 86,000 people have applied for federal disaster aid. Those trying to assist the displaced and get them out of emergency shelters are already running into massive issues. The normal strategy for disaster relief rehousing is to use rental properties. But because these properties were damaged during the floods, there is a huge housing shortage. While the National Weather Service had predicted flooding, no one estimated the magnitude of the calamity. Especially in a disaster-prone state like Louisiana, this was beyond residents’ expectations and preparations. In the areas that saw the worst flooding, property-owners are distraught not just because of the damage, but because most owners didn’t pay for flood insurance. The properties aren’t in the normal flood plane, and are at a high enough elevation to where this type of insurance isn’t generally considered. The governor of Louisiana is calling on aid organizations and individuals to volunteer in Louisiana. The mud will need to be removed from the houses as the water recedes. Louisianans are in over their heads, and can’t do it on their own. Charity Navigator names main aid organizations that provide domestic relief in the U.S. after natural disasters. Along with the Red Cross, the United Way of Southeast Louisiana, Direct Relief, and Convoy of Hope are the four main organizations handling relief. While some were lucky and only sustained slight damage, many Americans are left without a roof over their heads. They will be reliant on the help of fellow Americans for weeks to...

Hollywood Isn’t Donating Like It Used To

Hollywood Isn’t Donating Like It Used To

Aug 18

Los Angeles, despite being home to numerous very wealthy, sometimes generous people, is in a bit of a charity slump. There are a lot of reasons for why that is, but chief among them is that celebrity donors aren’t donating as much as they did before 2008. A lot of charities suffered during the financial crisis, and following that, people seem to be more interested in seeing how their donation is spent. That’s reasonable, and something that is common for educated donors. But there are other issues as well, which may not be as unique to L.A. There are currently 35,000 501(c)3s. That’s 12% more than there were a decade ago. As a result, there is a lot of overlap, with multiple charities working towards the same goal. And while that may sound like a good thing, it actually isn’t. New charities are hard to start and maintain, and at scale are more expensive than large, established charities. But people keep starting new charities, when what they could be doing is donating that money to established organizations, or establishing funds to raise money for others. Part of the problem with having so many charities is that it’s hard to tell which are worth supporting, which is part of the reason they tend to not survive for very long. It takes time to gain the trust and support of donors, which can be difficult with that many causes and charities to choose between. A streamlined non-profit scene would be ideal, but it’s not really fair to ask a bunch of charities to close up shop, nor is it really all that practical. It is safe to say that L.A. doesn’t need any more charities, it just needs to focus on what it has, and get people motivated to invest in those...

10 Charities to Think Twice About Before Giving Money To

10 Charities to Think Twice About Before Giving Money To

Aug 16

Charity Navigator is a website that ranks charities based on their financial transparency and accountability. Below is a list of ten charities that consistently receive the lowest rating the website has to offer, meaning they perform far below industry standards in a variety of areas. National Veterans Services Fund: Only one quarter of the organization’s total expenses go towards the services they actually claim to provide. Two thirds of their total expenses go towards fundraising. Charity Navigator ranks them poorly specifically for their financial decisions. Children’s Charity Fund, Inc.: Only 7% of their money goes towards their programs. Their fundraising efficiency is incredibly poor. They also lack an independent Board of Directors and many other key components to maintaining transparency. Firefighters Charitable Foundation: This organization also only allows 7% of its expenses to be spent on programs. In addition, they do not release essential financial information to the public. Wishing Well Foundation USA: In addition to not releasing financial information, they have no conflict of interest policy. For every $1 raised, $.82 was spent by the organization. The Committee for Missing Children: Only 12% of the expenses are for programs for missing children. Essential financial information is not released. Shiloh International Ministries: For every dollar earned, $.81 is spent on expenses for the company. California Police Youth Charities: Do not release audited financials, and they have no conflict of interest policy. United States Deputy Sheriff’s Association: The program expenses are only 5.5% of the total expenses. They have no independent board of directors. Police Protective Fund: The program expenses are 8% of the total expenses, with the CEO getting paid 2.57% of the total expenses, which equates to over $120,000. The Association for Firefighters & Paramedics: Only 2.4% of the total expenses go toward providing the support the association offers. There is no transparency in this...

Viral Videos Actually Can Help Raise Money for Charity

Viral Videos Actually Can Help Raise Money for Charity

Aug 09

Internet videos, memes, and other content that goes “viral” is ephemeral: those hits fade, and the fickle denizens of the Internet move on to something else. Sometimes such viral hits are just fluff, but sometimes they have more heft to them. In either case, they can get annoying, especially to people subjected to the constant chatter but who don’t see the appeal. On the other hand, they can also do good. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge made the rounds in the fall of 2014, with people dumping ice water on themselves to raise awareness of ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as Lou Gerhig’s Disease. The idea was to get people to donate–and, surprisingly, it did exactly that. The campaign raised $115 million for the ALS Association. That money helped to fund the scientific experiments that led to the discovery of a new gene, NEK1, which contributes to the disease. This is a huge step forward in understanding how the disease works and who it targets. It also takes us closer to finding a way to cure or prevent it. Using the viral meme to raise money was a great example of “thinking outside of the box,” making use of modern cultural phenomena to raise money. Of course, you can’t “make” video or meme go viral on purpose. Things go viral because they get the attention of the Internet, but you can’t plan for that. Attempts to force viral content generally fail, so it’s not a reliable way to raise funds. However, putting the effort into using the Internet as a fundraising tool is worth it, even if you don’t make a viral hit. Finding a way to communicate with donors, both current and potential, is the first step toward getting a viral hit of your...

It’s Easy to Avoid Scam Charities

It’s Easy to Avoid Scam Charities

Aug 08

Scam charities aren’t a new thing. Fortunately, they aren’t that common. With that being said, education is still the number one way to protect against fraud. Scam charities often crop up after a major tragedy takes place, such as a mass shooting, earthquake, or hurricane. During these times, philanthropic people should conduct plenty of research to ensure that the charity they’re thinking about donating to is a legitimate organization. However, you should always research any charity you’re thinking about supporting, even if it is a reputable group that has been around forever. You really want to make sure that your hard-earned money will go towards a mission that you support. Additionally, researching an organization can also help you identify some major red flags. Popular “missions” for scam charities involve supporting veterans and police officers. In Kentucky, for example, police have warned people to be careful of any unsolicited calls from a charity that purports to help officers and their families. The caller seeks immediate donations through wire transfer or prepaid cards, which are difficult to trace. You should avoid these types of solicitations at all costs. In fact, any time you receive unsolicited contact from a charity, you should be wary. While it’s possible that they’re just using aggressive tactics, there’s also a strong possibility that they’re a fraud. Get the name of the organization, and then see if they have a website where you can donate. In this day and age, there’s no excuse for not having a website, so that’s a good starting point. See what you can find out about them with a simple Web search. If they don’t have a Web presence, chances are that they’re not a real charity. If you ever do get the impression that you’ve been approached by a scam charity, you should report them to the Federal Trade Commission immediately. The Federal Trade Commission will investigate and determine whether the charity in question is real or...