Photo: James McCauley/REX USA.
Is Lady Gaga an actual philanthropist, or just a clever promoter? That's the question being raised after a close look at her Born This Way Foundation's 2012 federal tax report revealed that, out of more than $2 million it held in assets, just $5,000 was actually donated to charity. Hmmm.
Financial records show that most of the charity's money was spent on legal and publicity fees and travel for an outreach tour. A startling $808,661 was spent on the ambiguous-sounding "other" category. So, nearly $2 million was spent publicizing a foundation that raised just $5,000 for its cause: preventing bullying and encouraging tolerance.
In an open letter posted on The Huffington Post, Cynthia Germanotta, the singer's mother and president of Born This Way, defends the charity's spending practices. "First and foremost," she writes, "we are an organization that conducts our charitable activity directly, and we fund our own work." She adds, "we are not a grant-maker that funds the work of other charities, and were never intended to be."
According to Germanotta, it's through publicity, outreach tours, and social media that Born This Way reaches and "empowers" its target audience. "Born This Way Foundation's work has focused heavily on providing information on empowerment through its website, raising awareness of the importance of being kind to others through public relations and social media, bringing messages about individuality and bravery to communities around the country via the Born Brave Bus Tour and multiple events," she says. "Every dollar spent across these categories, including the legal fees towards the safe and effective implementation of each initiative, directly serves Born This Way Foundation's core mission of empowering youth."
Fair enough. Though Gaga has been accused of treating her charity as a vanity project, we hope that her heart is in the right place. She definitely spreads a message of tolerance through her music, so it's hard to believe that Lady G. wouldn't put her money where her Grammy-winning mouth is. (Showbiz 411)