Sunday, May 04, 2008

Sting's Rainforest Scam Gets Zero Charity Rating

If you're one of those rubes who donated money to Sting's rainforest scam, you might want to think twice before your reach for your wallet the next time.

In fact, let me give you a little advice. There's no such thing as a rainforest. It's a jungle, for crying out loud. And second, there nothing you can do to save it. It's just like the global warming scam: nothing you do can control the weather, and there's nothing you can do to control nature.

So having imparted such valuable wisdom to you, read the bad news.
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 the local arm of Sting's Rainforest Foundation is rated one of New York City's worst charities, 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 - 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.

A well-run charity, they said, typically spends 75 percent of revenues on programs.

"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 - has slapped Rainforest Foundation Inc. with a zero rating for each of the last four years.
I think the IRS may be paying him a visit shortly.

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