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Sports Charities In The News

   Mar 21, 2024

The first quarter of 2024 has already proven to be a busy year for sports or athlete-related charities in the news. Investigative journalists throughout the country routinely contact CharityWatch for help analyzing and understanding charity financial reporting and governance practices. Read on for some of our contributions to such reporting so far this year. 

Wernle Youth & Family Treatment Center 

CharityWatch CEO, Laurie Styron, comments on leadership and governance issues at an Indiana center for troubled youth (run by former Notre Dame linebacker, Darrell "Flash" Gordon ) that has been plagued with alleged sexual abuse, runaways, and reporting failures. 

"But Laurie Styron, executive director of CharityWatch, a Chicago-based nonprofit watchdog group, said Wernle's funding of Gordon's motivational speaking engagements and its purchase of his books raise questions about who benefitted from those expenditures."

"'If a charity is incurring expenses for something,' she said, 'then any related revenue those expenses generate should go to the charity.'"

Indianapolis Star, March 5th, 2024

Cameron Heyward Foundation

CharityWatch CEO, Laurie Styron, comments on governance issues and financial reporting anomalies she identified while analyzing the tax filings of the Cameron Heyward Foundation. 

"'I have been doing watchdog work for over 20 years now and can say that I have rarely, if ever, seen this many obvious errors in one charity's tax filings,' said Laurie Styron, the executive director [of] CharityWatch, an independent charity watchdog group. 'If a charity has only two board members, four of them can't be independent.'"

"'These are public dollars. Charities are not pet projects or private businesses.'"

"'There is a protracted lack of proper oversight here, and what appears to be a failure in fiduciary duties on the part of management,' said Styron, the executive director of CharityWatch. 'It's clear that there have been few, if any, internal controls in place at this organization. Whether that's due to incompetence or intentional diversion of assets, it's a problem.'"

The Arizona RepublicNBC SportsMarch 4th, 2024

Sport for Impact

CharityWatch CEO, Laurie Styron, praises Sport for Impact, but implores transparency due to concerns over how fiscal sponsors report their financial activities in aggregate. 

"Laurie Styron, the executive director of CharityWatch, an independent nonprofit watchdog group that assisted The Republic's investigation, called the launch of Sport For Impact 'wonderful news.'"

"'This is a positive change that, if executed properly and consistently monitored, can potentially close some of the accountability gaps that created so much waste in players past charitable efforts,' Styron said."

"'A fiscal sponsor like Sports For Impact can eliminate duplicative overhead and provide a centralized, higher level of expertise to guide athletes in their charitable efforts. This can help athletes avoid mistakes that come with inexperience or lack of knowledge about how to effectively run a charity.'"

"Styron also cautioned that a major downside of fiscal sponsors is a lack of public transparency, because such organizations generally report financial activities in aggregate on tax returns."

"'The public won't have access to how much each athlete is raising and spending through their LLC unless the fiscal sponsor willingly discloses that information in an audit note or elsewhere,' Styron said. 'I strongly urge Sports For Impact to commit to providing itemized public disclosures of the charitable activities conducted through each player's LLC in a consolidating statement of activities in its audited financial statements. ...'"

"'Doing so would create little additional work for the fiscal sponsor given that it will already need to maintain separate internal funds for each player's LLC in order to properly maintain its own accounting records.'"

The Arizona RepublicFebruary 8th, 2024

Giving Back Fund

CharityWatch CEO, Laurie Styron, weighs in on charity fundraising that coincides with the Superbowl and issues she identified with how one fiscal sponsor reported what it collected at prior events. 

"Nonprofit experts who reviewed GBF's tax returns at Sportico's request questioned why the organization would publicly account for Big Game Big Give's financials this way."

"'Direct expenses don't include charitable contributions. They are one half of an exchange transaction,' said Laurie Styron, executive director of CharityWatch."

"Styron noted that elsewhere on its tax return, the Giving Back Fund reported receiving no contributions from any special events in 2017."

SporticoFebruary 8th, 2024


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