Home Television MDA 2Hour Telethon: $17 Million “Raised,” And Questions About Company Collecting Texts

The two hour MDA “Show of Strength” on ABC has just ended. The organization’s website has a digital tote board (since the show was taped a month ago). It says they raised $17 million as of 11:20pm EST. Based on past reports it’s not clear if that was raised or pledged. But more importantly, there’s a problem and I can’t believe it.

MDA uses a group called MGive Foundation in Colorado to collect its donations given by text messaging. But according to Guide Star, MGive Foundation hasn’t filed its own Form 990 tax filing since 2010. That’s three years ago. Under GuideStar rules, MGive could be dropped altogether now because three years is their limit for groups not filing. (They actually filed their 2010 report two years ago and haven’t filed again.)

In 2010, MGive says it collected $21.4 million and had expenses– I am assuming this was the forwarding of donations to charities who used them–$19.4 million. Where did the other $2 million go? I have no idea.

I can’t I’m comfortable with a text donation middle man company that doesn’t file its own reports spotlessly on time. It’s certainly alarming that MDA is using them.

And the show: humorless. Canned. Devoid of personality. Very sad, of course, because the kids need help and need research and money for it. No question about it. Jerry Lewis’s name was invoked once, in passing. Slickly produced. The actual donations will be a result of the audiences’ genuine feelings for the kids. The rest of it looked like it was produced in Branson, Missouri for a generic charity.


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8 replies to this post
  1. I concur with you Chris. somehow there are still people that in this day in age Refuse to let the memories of a bygone era fade away and get on with the current day. there are some that have put the man (Jerrry Lewis) above the agency that actually helps the children and adults with muscular diseases. They believe that some miraculous act and a little taunting by Rabid Jerry Lewis Fanboys and Fangirls about the Show of Strength or other MDA fundraising did not bring in the bucks that they did in Jerrys day no matter how apples to oranges the comparisons are. will convince the MDA to change its mind and have Jerrry’s show back in its 21 hour glory, archaic 70’s Vegas stars, vaudeville acts and Catskills comics included. REALITY CHECK THE MDA IS MOVING FORWARD and Jerrys rabid Fans don’t get a clue. This is about an organization not Jerry Lewis. the MDA is bigger than Jerry Lewis. its about people that need help. lets stop the anti-MDA propaganda because some people in the community with drunk loyalty to Mr Lewis can’t get over themselves and realize that it isn’t 1976 anymore and start living in the present day.

  2. Hey there, Mr.10:01am, I will not glorify you by even writing your name. I know that this is not all YOUR doing, the real powers that be would naturally avoid the public eye and do their damage in the background. (like the union-jackals that ate Hostess.) It’s obvious that you’re a hanger-on, a bit player vaguely associated with one or more of them just echoing their buzz, their driving philosophy. Trying to impress them how you’re in their corner trying to defend the indefensible. I’m sure you scored points with them. Now I’m scoring MINE. Obviously, you’re a youngish person never having grown up with the Telethon as I have. That alone qualifies me. Since the beginning, when I was little, I saw Jerry, by then 30 years established; a famous comedian’s efforts, before I ever even understood it… Just knew I wanted to see what Jerry was up to, and why. Followed him and his ever growing show throughout the years. Getting better and more exciting each minute, each year. After a while, I started to donate and FEEL GOOD about it. (Not now, of course!) Yes, the stars DO bring in money, dodohead, the BIG BUCKS for MDA to give to their grossly overpaid, where the heck did they come from Prima Donna professional Leaches: the suits, the execs. And they’re badmouthing Jerry Lewis. And made the exec decision to fire him,, thinking they can do without him, assuming they knew WHAT Jerry is ALL about, what has he accomplished over 50 years of DEDICATION and LEADERSHIP, and lots of pleading for more donations, but in a classy way. Jerry Lewis was and IS a class act. Even during that difficult year, but he got help for it. Thing is, the audience knew. We were SO in tune to him. Yet the SHOW WENT ON. He created something bigger than ALL of us. For the few non Jerry Lewis fans (or for those before their time) Jerry Lewis brought in talent that is current, up to the minute, and one surprise on top of the other, to get THAT generation and fanbase of that celebrity or star to get off the fence and make the call and donate, otherwise they wouldn’t have. In the beginning, it was a BIG deal that MDA researchers have identified 2 diseases. Look at how far they’ve come in a relatively few years. Now it’s 42 identified, and counting. A lot of the now identified are arrested (cured,) effectively treated, essentially no longer deadly, turned chronic and survivable. Many are literally waiting on the research, funded by guess who’s year-round efforts? Yours? I DON’T THINK SO! Do you Really Think all this would’ve happened, could’ve happened without the relentless/tireless DRIVING FORCE dedicated Army of One man Jerry Lewis? Of course others helped, but without a conductor, you don’t have an orchestra. And it takes an orchestra of buildings full of expensive, built/designed just for them research labs conducting short term, long term, national and international research of highly skilled, highly dedicated geniuses DRIVEN by the publicity and lasting memories of the JERRY LEWIS LABOR DAY MDA TELETHON? Just asking. My husband says anyone can blow up a bridge, but NOT anyone can build one. Wolves! Rats! I am shocked, they should be ashamed, but don’t know what shame is. Just because Jerry Lewis is old, can’t fight this negative influence now , they neutralize him by kicking him to the curb? And they get away with it? And you’re a part of that? How low can you sink? Anything for a buck in this $ tight economy? Well, if you can get to see any footage (maybe u tube?) of the 70’s through 90’s Telethons, maybe you get the picture what its all about… Nuff said.

  3. Just shows you how far this country has gone to hell. The Labor Day Tradition of the telethon has gone the way of decency and the morality of humans looking out for those who need it. Right in the crapolla. But what can you expect of a country who has taken the idea of me,me,me and turned it into a way of life. Ashamed? yes. Saddened, completely. Proud of my fellow Americans,Yeah,right NOT. Maybe bringing back yesterday is not such of a bad idea after all. Take a truthfull look at YOUR life and the depth that this country has fallen into and I do believe you will find that the end of something as minor as this telethon has just added to the dirt thrown on this countrys grave.

  4. Jerry Lewis was offensive to many groups of people, Im not socked at all that a non profit hoping to recieve more donations would remove him from the telethon. As for the “Fib” about the money raised, So What? No, the IAFF didnt show up with suitcases full of money, No, Jiffy Lube and Safeway didnt whip out checkbooks within the two hours the Telethon was on air, but what MDA did and has done was recognize the people and organizations that have donated to help this great cause as well as put the spotlight on some of the families effected by these diseases. I couldnt care less if MDA said they recieved $54 million, $100million, or ten dollars, its doesnt make sense to focus on that when its what they do with that money that is important.

  5. Now it’s run by a fellow called Derkes which rhymes with ???
    Come on!
    Fifty years of what to do over Labor Day weekend, a stay up late time, and not having to be outside sweltering, got how many American families’ attention? The corporates had already been involve heavily at times way before and some of them went to work on it again one day after the show was over.
    Add to that in his latter years on the show, Jerry was heading to making it an international event which would have given to so many more kids worldwide. The economic losses of this century so far, plus the support from major stars like Frank,Dean, Sammy, Ed and others who went to join those kids that Jerry had lost to this evil disease, may have slowed down the funds,but Jerry’s energy was always there along with his genuine love and bed-side manner.
    But no longer. They blamed the messenger!
    Two hours owned but not stirred by ABC and a collection of …who are they?…people late from contestant-on-TV shows, can never replace the talent that was there before. And that talent had a lot to do with how many people watched and for how many hours. If the media were too greedy in charging and not donating their air time, other possibilities are out there. Now it sounds as if there are many fewer big donaters and corporate fund-raisers than previously. Many have walked.
    As a teacher, I spent many years in summer school with quite a few of Jerry’s kids and year-after-year I’d return to find some names missing and try to hide my tears while hoping that cures would be found. Now the cure as such seems to be the lining of CEO and MDA board pockets when we should all be out there, like Jerry, doing it for free.
    Just bring Jerry home !

  6. You said it yourself in another post, Roger. The online toteboard calls the posted total all inclusive. That was a procedure the telethon for Cerebral Palsy did throughout its run. It’s not being deceptive or dirty. Yes, part of it is PR image (welcome to the 21st century media). Part of it is the reality of today’s economy. MDA saw the economic tide turning which is why they increased the focus on the Shamrock campaign (low cost/high return) and MuscleWalk (same thing). The 22 hour telethon was becoming neither of those. Do you think having Jerry Lewis play to his literally dying audience for even two hours would bring in more donations than this past Sunday did? I remember when the NYC MDA office went to nightclubs and restaurants to try to arrange for places to do telethon segments from in 2009. They talked to owners and mangers in their 40’s and 50’s. When asked if they wanted to host a segment of the Jerry Lewis Telethon, every one of them replied, “Who’s Jerry Lewis?” It was a time for a change in generations for this Labor Day platform in order to preserve it as part of a now larger picture. Could it have been done better? Yes. Did it need to be done? Bigger yes.

  7. Chris–the $54 million is from all the money collected this year, not the telethon last night. Firefighters didn’t “show up.” That’s a corporate donation, and it was pre-taped as was everything else. We’re not going to know how much money was derived from the actual two hour broadcast because MDA won’t break out those numbers. My biggest argument with MDA is only about what they say they raised during the telethon itself. Also I rather doubt Charo or Jack Jones would have been on a 2013 Jerry Lewis special, although Celine Dion– a huge draw worldwide and in Las Vegas– would have been a big asset. Also, if any talent had said anything heartfelt or unscripted it might have been a relief.

  8. Update on the 2013 MDA Show Of Strength is $54.1 million. The firefighters showed up with $26.1 million. I’m weary of all those who make claims as they look on the outside without any inside experience or knowledge. Here’s an idea. If you think some sort of fraud is being committed, there are numerous government agencies you can file a report with for them to take action on. I’m also weary of the loud yet fortunately few who refuse to let go of yesterday. Bring back Jerry Lewis and the show that was? A show that cost more each year because MDA had to buy air time on an increasing number of stations, which was why more and more carried less of the 22 hours. It was a show whose “superstar talent” boasted in 2010 of the closing act of Taylor Dayne. Do we really need to see Charo, Jack Jones, Norm Crosby and Celine Dion? Will that “superstar talent” bring in the money? Rather than whining about want YOU want, how about recognizing what’s needed by researchers and patients. MDA now has a variety of fundraising platforms rather than the reliance of one dinosaur. The Show Of Strength, Shamrocks Against Dystrophy, MuscleWalk and the firefighters’ Fill The Boot Drive will ensure that the work of MDA will continue. How about a little recognition of how MDA research has led to human trials of treatments and applications for drugs to treat neuromuscular disease?

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