Hip-hop legend Jay-Z is in the spotlight again but not for being a doting father. The multimillionaire rapper is under scrutiny following reports he donated a tiny fraction of his earnings to charity.
The music mogul earned a whopping $63 million in 2010 and made a contribution of just $6,431 to his own charity that year, according to an examination of tax records for the Shawn Carter Scholarship Fund by The Daily.
“Jay, along with his family, provided office support, overhead support, [mother] Mrs. Gloria Carter’s 100 percent effort and time, computers, FedEx expenses, accounting, and treasury function support,” Jay Z’s representative, Jana Fleishman, said in an email to The Daily. “This was at no cost to the charity.”
Tax records, though, show the charity paid a relatively paltry amount to oversee the office: $1,209 for office expenses, $1,401 for telephone and $4,696 in other expenses in 2010.
The Shawn Carter Scholarship Foundation, received three donations in 2010, totaling $218,849, The Daily noted. Jay-Z’s cash contribution was the smallest of the three.
The revelations come as the veteran rapper, formerly known as Shawn Carter, performed a two-day benefit concert at New York City’s Carnegie Hall. Most tickets cost several hundred dollars and the shows are expected to raise millions for Jay-Z’s scholarship foundation and the United Way of New York City.
Jodie Blum, who is co-founder and former executive director of hip-hop artist Common’s charitable foundation, says she “commends Jay-Z for hosting the concert” to raise funds for the underprivileged because there will “always be a demographic willing to spend that kind of money.”
Tracey Webb, founder of BlackGivesBack.com, an online blog that chronicles black philanthropy and also publishes an annual survey of the top ten African-American celeb philanthropists, says a celebrity’s approach to giving can be somewhat different than mainstream.
“They tend to use their ‘celebrity’ to give back, instead of giving from their own pocket — such as using their name to promote awareness of a cause or to raise funds for their own nonprofit by using their time and talent,” says Webb. “They count on their fan base to drive their charitable efforts.”
Indeed, Jay-Z’s just made his inaugural appearance on the 2011 BlackGivesBack.com top 10 celebrity philanthropist list. He came in at number 10 not for digging deep in his pockets but for the benevolent efforts of his charity, the Shawn Carter Scholarship Foundation.
In 2011, for instance, a Jay-Z fundraiser helped raise $1.25 million at a carnival-themed benefit in New York to support the foundation, which financially assists individuals seeking higher education.
Indeed, there are many ways, other than cash donations, that celebs can give something back, from lending their names to charitable efforts to raising awareness to causes that need support.
Still, Blum, who has designed and implemented the charitable efforts and foundations for a host of high profile personalities, says, “if celebs are going to start their own charity it’s their responsibility to write their own check. It’s not credible to ask other people to donate if they are not.”
She says, despite best intentions, many celebs “do not have the expertise to guide them through the best business practices of setting up a philanthropist organization” and at their worst are motivated by “good PR” rather than altruistic concerns.
Blum, however, adds there are a “handful of celebs” such as “Alicia Keys” who are passionate about giving something back and are “doing it right.”
“Our strategy requires our members, including Russell Simmons, Dwyane Wade, Steve Harvey, Eva Longoria and Allan Houston, to give a monetary donation,” says Sherrie Deans, executive director of the Admiral Center, a philanthropy partner that helps celebrities advance philanthropic commitments and become advocates for charitable causes. ”[Individual giving] is an important component of philanthropy.” For example, a number of the Admiral Center’s members have committed to giving at least $100,000 a year in support of the causes most important to them.
It has only been months since Jay-Z received flak for attempting to cash in on the Occupy Wall Street protests by creating “Occupy All Streets” T-shirts for his Rocawear clothing line, without giving any of the proceeds to the movement, which is taking a stand against corporate greed and corruption.
At the time the 42-year-old music mogul and entrepreneur was accused of missing a sensitivity chip. This time round the tax records may well expose that it is now time for Jay-Z to give from his own pocket to support the communities he benefits from.
Forbes estimated Jay-Z’s net worth is $420 million.
Follow Kunbi Tinuoye on Twitter at @Kunbiti