Saturday, January 16, 2010

Wyclef Jean's Yele Haiti Foundation



We're getting a lot of questions about Wyclef Jean's charity as several sources are starting to raise questions about it.

First off, we do not yet rate this charity as it currently doesn't meet our criteria. Why? It has only filed three Forms 990 and we require at least 4 to complete a rating.

Second, our team has taken a look at what information is available on this group.

At the end of the day, this charity is going to bring in a ton of money because of its affiliated star power. Already it has raised $1.5 million! It is critical that we all- from the media to nonprofit experts to donors - closely watch how it handles all of these new donations. Will it spend the money on its own programs and services? And does that mean it will help with the medium to long term recovery efforts or will it try to provide immediate aid? Will it simply funnel it to other groups -and if so, will it that diminish how much makes it to other organizations?

For more on celebrities and their charity work, visit our YouTube page.

You can read CNN's take on the story online here.

22 comments :

Miss Kim said...

Peersonally I have decided to make a recurring donation to Yele Haiti in addition to a donation to Doctors without Borders. I have the upmost respect for Wyclef Jean and his wife for flying to the aid of Haiti and spending their time in the streets not the sidelines criticizing every move.
It is my wish that my money be used to ease the suffering of a survivor of this horrific event. it can be to buy food , medical equipment or even a pack of cigarettes..whatever it is that will ease the suffering of that person.
Many blessings to Mr. Wyclef his family and BIG RESPECT.

Mercy Stirling de Duenas said...

Thank you for posting this. I had been looking Charity Navigator and they didn't appear. I have worked with honest non-profits and know that many times the PAPER work that everyone requires is a pain in the butt - but it is IMPORTANT that it be done in order to establish CONFIDENCE that the money they are fundraising is WELL AND ETHICALLY SPENT. I say donate to those organizations on Charity Navigator that are proven long time charities with experience. It is the only way your donation will really make an impact.

Melicent said...

The SmokingGun.com posted an article on this organization complete with the latest tax returns and paints a very unflattering picture of paying themselves and relatives, even Wyclef paying himself 100,000 for his own charity benefit appearance. I wouldnt give them a dime!!!

Just said...

I am all for your rating system. That is why I am here, to read and learn. However, just a few years ago the red cross was fined a tremendous amount of money for mishandling of funds. I am in the financial business, there is one thing that I know for sure. The more money your organization has, the smaller the overall percentage can appear to be, while representing huge amounts of actual money (for example: 0.05% of 1,000,000.00=500 dollars however, 0.05% of 575 million dollars is 287,500). An organization that has HUGE amounts of funding can then pay small percentages that represent outrageous amounts of money to CEO's and operation execs. I will take 0.01% to operate an orgainization if it represents $570,000,000 per year just for the CEO??? That is HUGE, Really?? The most that this young man has reported (although Late) was 1 million dollars. Even if he pays himself to show up for a fundraiser what is the difference? Mcgovern is paying herself half a million each year to be a figure head. Is that the same as showing up to work (doing a concert, in Jean's case) and getting paid to do what you say is your passion, and if it is not wrong for her then why is it wrong for him? I find it reprehensible that your group has given a questionable at best review of of this young mans efforts, when by your own standards he has met and bested more than half of your criterion. He is trying so diligently to help a forgotten people who he just happens to be a one of. What we should be doing is hitting up the red cross for some of that half a million that mcgovern is gobbling up and the other half that her operating exec is getting for a salary (let's talk about caps). He has just started this organization a few years ago with less than 100k. Spent his own money and you all poohpooh the fact that he gave more than he made in the organization that year? In the last 18 months there has been a total of 5 disasters in his country and he has been there to support and help for every single one. Shame Shame on you. Give some credit where credit is due.

RAWRUNNER said...

As a person who has worked with nonprofits in under developed communities in the US, a lot of the criteria is written by those that it benefits. If you were so concerned about meeting the needs of the people, then you would help those on the ground with technical assistance. We all know its a lot easier to play the game when you write the rules.Stop the foolishness and help. The crisis is far too big for divisiveness. My donation goes to Yele Haiti daily.

Michael said...

Please stop to bring any suspicious feeling when it seems you do not know anything precisely!
I choosed YELE HAITI because these people have been on the ground already and are Haitians in Haiti.
They have been involved in improving the situation locally the last few years.
They have been removing dead bodies themselves today, so please stop unfair comments it seems decent to be quiet in our daily comfort: RESPECT TO WYCLEF JEAN AND HIS FAMILY!

Moi said...

I think Charity Navigator's reasoning for caution about Yele Haiti is well-reasoned and I appreciate that they are not changing their criteria because of haste or 'star-power'. Charity Navigator is not arbitrarily "criticizing every move", it is using the same criteria it uses to evaluate every charity. I want to know before I donate that my money is going directly to the people that need it by organizations that have been proven to deliver. Yele Haiti may well be a wonderful organization, but it has not been around long enough to prove itself in national disasters, nor does it yet have a proven track record. When it does, I will donate to it. For now, I prefer Doctors Without Borders or Americares.

Babu8492 said...

If Yelle Haiti has affiliations with companies that are owned by Wycliffe, shouldn't they be donating the various expenses to the fund? Just seems odd that they charge the non-profit that they run. Wycliffe himself shouldn't be taking any monies for performance, but should be turning over those expenses as a donation to Yelle Haiti. I can see maybe travel expenses be paid for from donations but, not performance expenses. In my opinion, it does appear to be collusion and conflict of interest.

Wycliffe, you might consider reporting back to those donors via Yelle Haiti's website on how monies will be used. I personally, wouldn't be charging my non-profit for performance fees paid to myself. That does look a little suspicious.

Love and respect to you and Yelle Haiti for your efforts. Just be on the level.

Auntie Monica said...

I donated to Yele along with the Red Cross and Partners in Health. I think the negative attention to Wyclef Jean's foundation will help their staff run their organization more soundly and more effectively for the people of Haiti. Wyclef's impassioned response to his motherland's time of most dire need drew me to donate. He's an iconic figure to many Haitians and they need him, what he represents, and what he is doing so desperately now.

Lisa@Handbags4Hunger said...

I agree with Moi - I think Charity Navigator's reasoning for caution about Yele Haiti is well-reasoned.

It will be interesting to see Oprah Winfrey's Wednesday show - where Wyclef Jean will address the controversy over his foundation, Yele Haiti.

See link http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/entertainment_tv_tvblog/2010/01/oprah-winfrey-on-wednesday-rihanna-maxwell-wyclef-jean-and-dr-sanjay-gupta.html

JTL Florida said...

Call me a skeptic, but the more I read and research the more HAITI looks like a money pit. It has been marketed by scam artists posing as fund raisers and politicians alike to rake in HUGE $$ over the years, with never any significant improvement. This earthquake may prove to be a blessing if it relieves the country of it's old ways, and offers new government (for the people) that will be accountable. Compare the Dominican Republic and Haiti, it's only greed and corruption that have kept this country so poor. Yele & Wyclef Jean (and many other non-profits) put on a great show of compassion, BUT follow the MONEY. I know some non-profits are honest, but the BILLIONS that have gone to that country have disappeared. Give a man a fish and he eats for A DAY, TEACH a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.... Angry at those who steal from the poor!!

Tovah said...

HOW DARE THESE PEOPLE... making comments @ YELE- I am a well educated financial analyst who will be the first to tell you that Cleff has ONLY HAITI's best interest in his hands. I have spent time looking into his returns, contributions, and actual donations. THE AMERICAN GOVERNMENT IS A THEIF... WYCLEFF, TIMBERLAND, and YELE r NOT!!! Pls if u do nothing else, I implore u to donate- if not to Yele, than somewhere else- ALL DONATIONS R NOW US TAX EXEMPT.

suspicious said...

dont trust this guy until a full investigation is completed even about his take for the hurricane disasters. listen to what he says. he says he did not use the monies for "personal use" but he doesnt deny he used them for his professtional/career use. look at his eyes avert the question and the phony tears. i cant believe that diddy and i think oprah are so naive as to back him. wait and see. did you know that nextel is calling cell phone users to contribute $5. on their next bill to yele haiti? i wonder who conspied this move. and did you know that many people are wise to the deal now and are calling to cancel their "yes" before their bill is paid so they dont lose their donation to such a still suspicious fund. wisen up folks. wait and see whagt an investigation yields. his forced tears are ludicrous. yes it makes me angry. shouldnt it? choose another charity for the time being.

Just said...

If there is anyone who knows the depth and width of the need in Haiti, it is a native.
I look forward to watching him prove himself. I have given to the red cross with which I have my own reservations...because most of all I want to help the people of Haiti as well as YELE and the presidential fund for Haitians. The only way to prove ones self is in the fire. In the open, as I stated earlier The Red Cross has made MONUMENTAL financial and reporting ERRORS in the recent past. They continue to pay INSULTINGLY FLAGRANT CEO compensations, no comparison? ...but W. Jean is ridiculed for paying himself for a concert?? I do not understand?? I am a skeptic, but, I believe in fairies.... I have faith and I know that no one can prove themselves until they are given the chance. I am personally although still donating, waiting on the red cross to prove themselves.

Miss Kim said...

I continue to support Yele Haiti. Ibelieve my money will be well spent. Red Cross has proven to be mired in beaucracy. Although they are good I do not want my money to go into the general fund of the Red Cross, I give to red cross through my employer once a year. I contribute to Doctors without Borders as well.
Yele Haiti has developed a number of worthwhile programs in Haiti in the past and I feel confident will continue to find ways to help.
Perhaps you should question the huge salaries of the executives of the Red Cross . hardly qualifying them to be called philanthropists in my opinion.
Peace.

pharrington said...

Yele has not offered any concrete info on the amount of their donations and work in Haiti - that says it all. Just tears and anger, no definitive examples of aid provided. It's a distraction from the fundraising efforts. Clooney and MTV cared more about not hurting Jean's supposedly fragile emotions that in helping Haiti. The telethon lost millions from people like me who will not give to someone who gives to Yele, a very questionable organization that pays more to its members than the people it claims to help. If Yele had been really concerned they would have pulled out to defray the hullabaloo, but they wanted the money for themselves too much.

pharrington said...

The only comment on this blog which alluded to any work that could be substantiated that Jean or Yele performed in the past or presently was digging out dead bodies. Is there any concrete evidence of any aid at all?

Miss Kim said...

in answer to Pharrington
"The only comment on this blog which alluded to any work that could be substantiated that Jean or Yele performed in the past or presently was digging out dead bodies. Is there any concrete evidence of any aid at all?" Check out the Yele Haiti website for a list of their projects and checkout the video of Yele Haiti's financial officer listing the projects and how money spent in addition to their explanation on the expenses with the benefit concert. Also Yele Haiti has passed the IRS auditing for a 501(c) organization. I hope this helps. I still have admiration and respect for Wyclef Jean for starting this foundation years before this tragedy and for stepping up after. Peace.

Dedicated said...

I made a donation to Yele before I read about their shady practices.

Yele claims to be based in New York but I was assessed an international fee. I tried to talk to someone at the organization that handles their transaction (Click and Pledge) and the guy there sounded like had no idea what he was talking about.

The info I have is:

the transaction took place in Great Britain (thus triggering that international fee)

Yele claims to be in New York and Click & Pledge says they are in Blacksburg, VA

The guy I communicated w/at Click & Pledge really didn't know what he was talking about. He tried to convince me that - the funds were deposited into 1 of Click & Pledge's accts (in Europe altho they are headquartered in USA) and THEN they just transferred the money to Yele's acct in USA - which would cause anyone in the US donating to the yele.org website to be assessed an international fee

WHICH MAKES NO SENSE WHATSOEVER

He said something like "well we try to spread out the fees" - HUH?

The point is - the donations to yele.org are being sent to an account in Europe. Why? That sounds EXTREMELY SHADY.

Kamran said...

Dear Dedicated:

I am Kamran Razvan, the CEO of Click & Pledge. I would like to provide answers to the concerns and questions you have brought up in this forum.

Click & Pledge provides two types of accounts to its clients, namely the in-house account and the merchant account. The in-house account uses a global processing system that allows us to process in 35 currencies under a single account. This account was typically used by smaller organizations that did not want to pay the merchant account monthly fees. Larger clients used our merchant account option since that account provided the funds faster through the ACH. Merchant accounts are processed 100% in the country where the organization resides, therefore is not subject to international transactions. Since November when we received the report of international fees by the banks we stopped offering the in-house account and only offer the merchant account.

Click & Pledge serves over 9000 organizations worldwide and serves clients in 45 countries servicing 35 currencies. The company is located in Blacksburg, Virginia and is currently also incorporated in Great Britain and Canada. Our in-house global processing system operates from our accounts in Great Britain. This account, as stated before, is used by clients that wish to save the monthly fees charged by banks for the merchant account.

In reference to the international fee, Click & Pledge is not the company that has charged you. It is your credit card company. Click & Pledge has processed transactions through its global processing system since 2008 with the introduction of our new platform without any issues or additional bank fees. Please check this article: http://tinyurl.com/wsj-bankfees. Since the banks started charging these fees we stopped offering the in-house account since we have no control over what banks do and we have no idea what arbitrary charge they are adding to transactions. In one incident that I was involved with a donor had made three donations but only one was charged the fee – the fee was later waived by Bank of America after our conference call with the bank.

Yele’s account was moved to the new merchant account on January 21 and has since been processing in the US for 100% of its transactions. The international fee you incurred had nothing to do with Yele.org and is completely a policy of your credit card issuing bank.

With regard to Yele Haiti, we have been processing donations for them since 2005. I have always found the administration and Mr. Jean to be honest, steadfast and forthright in their mission to support the underprivileged in Haiti. I know that Yele Haiti will do everything in their power to see that the money donated will be used effectively and efficiently to help. I personally give to Yele Haiti.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have. I am the only Kamran at Click & Pledge and our phone number is on our website at: http://clickandpledge.com. Please call our support and feel free to ask for me.

Regards,

Kamran Razvan

CEO

Click & Pledge

Dedicated said...

“Yele’s account was moved to the new merchant account on January 21 and has since been processing in the US for 100% of its transactions. The international fee you incurred had nothing to do with Yele.org and is completely a policy of your credit card issuing bank.”

That’s both interesting & ironic because my donation and subsequent international fee posted on 1/20/10.

I do know why international cc fees are assessed and by whom, so I also know the charge is RELATED to what currency/country the organization is in – or where the transaction took place. So it is not exactly true that the charge has nothing whatsoever to do with the organization receiving the donations.

This obviously was an issue for Yele itself or they would have not switched to the “new merchant account on January 21.”

I am glad to see they have done this…

… because regardless of all those rules, regulations, & explanations – the outcome appeared ‘shady’ especially after years of financial problems were already revealed. And it is the perception and the trustworthiness of an organization (especially a non profit that says they can handle disaster relief of the Haiti earthquake magnitude) that is most important.

I simply disagreed w/an international fee (yes – by a bank – but for legit reason) for a donation to a company that is listed as being in New York. Plus there were no disclaimers (like on other non profit websites that also work w/Click & Pledge) that I or anyone else in the USA would be assessed an international fee (by our banks) if we made a donation to Yele Haiti.

Thank you for taking the time to respond. I am glad that Americans (especially poor & struggling Americans who wanted to help & have opened their measly pocket books) – now – will not be assessed an international fee because of the nature of the transaction to Yele.

Now – as I have told various people – my donation was small so I was not concerned specifically about the amount of the fee – rather that the fee was assessed in the 1st place – which sent up a red flag (to me).

I am also glad that Yele has hired new accountants because they obviously needed a bit of overhaul and strict smart financial advising.

Bill said...

The smoking gun article caused me to give money to a different charity organization, run by an ex NHL hockey player from Haiti.