Everybody Has a Foundation, Right? Wrong

Researchers are studying athlete charities, and finding that there are not as many of them as you might think. Greg Bishop reports in the Seattle Times (forgive me, it's a few days old -- I'm still catching up) reports on the ongoing research of Michigan Professor Kathy Babiak doctoral candidate Scott Tainsky.

... they studied athlete charities in the NBA, using the most recent 990 tax forms. Of 91 players who claimed to have charities, only 43 had tax records and 41 had data.

Those players ranged in age from 22 to 40, in salary from $771,123 to $19.1 million, and in pro experience from three to 16 years. The players who started charities were older than the league average and made significantly more money than the league average during the 2005-06 season.

Their charities held average assets of $495,017, a number skewed by Dikembe Mutombo's charity ($12.8 million in 2005). The median was $17,625. The same held for the amount spent on program services, with an average of $102,653, but a median of $28,582. The researchers also found that NBA players spent almost as much on average on fundraising and administration ($49,323) as they gave away in grants ($59,628).

Two former Sonics superstars provided a stark contrast in terms of the share of expenses that went toward program services. Sixty-five percent is considered solid. Ray Allen came in at 75.5 percent; Gary Payton at 15 percent.

UPDATE: And check out a fascinating article about Ray Allen's history of giving.

UPDATE: A TrueHoop reader pores over the ratings of some sports-related charities and finds several are not very efficient. Dikembe Mutombo gives a lot but his foundation is not highly rated. Magic Johnson's foundation is not strong from a financial standpoint. Ditto the Naismith Memorial Foundation. The foundation built in honor of Jim Valvano gets high marks, however.