Subway’s Jared and the Dark Side of Celebrity Philanthropy

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I’ve always admired Subway’s Jared. I went to college at Indiana University, and so did Jared. The IU newspaper covered his quite remarkable story of losing 250 lbs by eating Subway twice a day and nothing else, an inspired feat and a change for the better for the young man. When that story was published I thought to myself, “That cat is going to be famous for this” and, wow, that came to pass.

Like many Americans I have struggled with my weight my whole adult life, going up and (and once again now, slowly) down in occasional victories over the years against my stubborn metabolism and by celebrating or renouncing my lifelong love for cheeseburgers. It ain’t easy.

I am hoping for the best for Jared and that his recent troubles are nothing more than keeping the wrong fellow on the payroll. And this is the issue. Brother Jared appears to have hired a despicable character to work closely with him. Specifically this villain ran Jared’s personal philanthropic effort, The Jared Foundation, dedicated to the noble goal of eliminating childhood obesity.

I didn’t look up the deviant who ran The Jared Foundation on Linked-In to learn of his credentials. I already know the answer. If you have a proper philanthropic foundation, with revenue streams, grant making capacity, and policies and procedures you need a college educated non-profit professional to run the show, to advise you and run your organization properly. You do not need your homey from back in the day.

Take a look at the “Foundation” for yourself and ask some questions along with me? Author’s note – as of you 7/8/15 the foundation website is down. So trust me on this:

What exactly is the purpose? Some vague school based programs that don’t seem relevant or replicable. There is almost nothing specific about methodology, outcomes, partners, or results.  

How does one seek a grant ? Your organization cannot, at least via the website, or in a fair and transparent way.

What is the point exactly? Unclear, though Jared encourages you to give $245 via his online portal for unknown purposes. That’s right. This millionaire wants your $ as well. It’s not enough that we had to put up with him on every NFL commercial game break for many years, mugging it up with his lunch meat.

So what can we make of Jared’s private foundation, that he hired an unqualified pal and future convict to run? This, my friends, is about tax avoidance and celebrity. Most every actor, athlete and washed out reality show contestant has a personal philanthropic “foundation” and many of these are nothing but tax shelters, with no clear philanthropic mandate, formal awards process nor, in many cases, much in the way giving at all.

So what does this mean for us in philanthropy? Listen, this is America and people can do what they want with their money. Fine. But we cannot have tax policy that allows a sandwich pitch man to protect assets from the IRS in the name of childhood obesity. If you are serious about getting kids active you know what you do? You give your money to the Boys and Girls Club or Girls, Inc. or Youth Soccer USA. There are hundreds of quality organizations working on this issue these days. We probably don’t need any new ones.

What you don’t do is hire your buddy to run your foundation, who isn’t qualified for the task (and in this case was up to some terrible deeds). That’s keeping your pal on your payroll. It is a disservice to all of us working in philanthropy, that celebrities can pull this stunt again and again.

Look at it this way. Our schools are funded by our taxes. Our schools are responsible to help gets get kids active and learn healthy habits. And every dollar in Jared’s Foundation is a dollar not paying his obligation as a Citizen. Taxes fund the American Experiment.

I hope you didn’t do the Big Crime Jared. That you put your money into a private foundation to avoid paying your fair tax share is enough for me. You’ve lost a fan and supporter.

Get a Job. You are going to need one now.  

About jeremymhatch

If I could, I'd write about nothing but tacos. Alas, I am fundraising and leadership consultant in the arts, focusing on contributed revenue growth for organizations. Send me a compliment or complaint. And the location for the good tacos in your town.
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1 Response to Subway’s Jared and the Dark Side of Celebrity Philanthropy

  1. Pingback: Smoldering Piles: Will Philanthropy Survive the 2016 Election? | artful fund raiser

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