Home Celebrity Madonna’s Rotten Charity: We Told You About This Last Year, and the...

The New York Times now reports that Madonna‘s Kabbalah-front charity, Raising Malawi, is a financial mess. That’s nice. I’ve written about this so many times my wrists are sprained. Last August twice, and several times before that in Showbiz411 and in my old column. Let’s review: http://www.showbiz411.com/2010/08/04/madonna-did-her-religion-send-former-honcho-a-warning — and here: http://www.showbiz411.com/2010/07/26/madonnas-religion-has-warning-for-whistleblowers — and here: http://www.showbiz411.com/2010/04/30/is-madonnas-new-spiritual-leader-named-muki

The facts are that Madonna and Raising Malawi have been involved in questionable activities for the last few years. Let’s not forget that in February 2008, Madonna corralled a bunch of famous people to donate $3.7 million at a specious charity fundraiser including UNICEF. She convinced Gucci to start its own foundation to accept the money because Raising Malawi still did not have approval as a registered charity. She didn’t just attend the event, as the Times says: it was hers from top to bottom. Read about it here, written by yours truly: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,321228,00.html

In today’s New York Times story, reporter Adam Nagourney–a good reporter, but a little late to this game–may have been somewhat conned. He says the Kabbalah Center provided him with a report about mismanagement at Raising Malawi. The report conveniently blames– or scapegoats–Phillippe van den Bosche. Madonna and Michael Berg, son of Kabbalah Centre owners Philip and Karen Berg–escape notice. Yet, Raising Malawi was totally Michael Berg’s project.

According to the most recent tax filing for Madonna’s own Ray of Light Foundation, she donated $2.25 million to Raising Malawi in 2009, and another $200,000 to Spirituality for Kids, a Kabbalah Center subsidiary.

Right now, the most recent federal tax filing for Raising Malawi–year 2009– shows a charity in the red with only $505,000 in fund balances. It also shows almost $3 million in wire transfers for a school that was never built, and for unspecified “RM Trust.” Where this money went, who sent it, and who got it, are issues that are unresolved.

This past winter, a cry went out from Malawi because Madonna had forced local people off their land in order to build her Oprah-like leadership academy for girls. Now the school plan is dead. The people have been moved for no reason. It’s a disaster of the greatest magnitude: American celebrity goes to poor African country, scoops up two children, and leaves the place a mess.

Madonna and Raising Malawi have still not conceded defeat. On the group’s website, the most recent statement comes from January 2011: “Madonna, whose Raising Malawi charity has made substantial inroads helping over a million children orphaned from the AIDS epidemic in that African nation, is stepping up the pace considerably on all fronts — especially in regard to her plans for building the Raising Malawi Academy for Girls.”

More to come…

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Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.
5 replies to this post
  1. Quite some time ago, after having read your columns, I e-mailed Raising Malawi and asked for info – as I recall it, I wanted to know if there was any religion in the project. I received an e-mail thanking me for showing interest, and then I was suddenly on their mailing list.

    I wrote back that I had looked for info but not gotten it, and would they kindly take me off the list. Finally, they did.

  2. She seems quite generous, donating more than $2.4m in 2009.
    Her charity seems to be the problem. Maybe she should just give the money to a great foundation that helps Africa, like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foun.

  3. Yup! When I heard about this story in the Times, I had to come over here and see what you had to say about it! lol. Thank you for speaking out about this school. Maybe the kids will be spared having to learn Kabbalah.

  4. Many very positive realisations are to be credited to Madonna’s charity in Malawi. Some have failed. One call that “learnig by doing”. People who just criticize and do nothing are probably better in some people eyes. Madonna is fantastic and she will continue her work in Malawi with competent people. That is the message and that is what is important.

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