HEALTHY LIVING

The Truth About Celebrity Giving

Dec 29, 2008 | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Not much about the world of celebrity philanthropy surprises Stephanie Sandler anymore. For the past nine years, Sandler, senior vice president at the Giving Back Fund, a philanthropic consulting and management firm in Los Angeles, has helped celebrities set up their own foundations. Along the way, she's had first-hand experience in the not-always-truthful world of celebrity giving.

Take the well-known entertainer who was supposedly known as being especially generous. The problem was, there was no public record of it, and the celebrity didn't return calls for clarification. "It tends to be that if the people who are putting their names out there as being philanthropic really are, they get back to you," she says.

Welcome to a world in which it's not uncommon for a celebrity's pet foundation to have greater administrative costs than the amount of money it grants. Tax records from Tyra Banks' TZone Foundation, for instance, show that in 2006 it paid $35,000 in salaries, while distributing only $32,000 in grants. A spokesperson for Banks said that the tax form was filled out incorrectly and that the foundation did not pay board members salaries.

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