Saturday, September 17, 2005
Chicago Tribune: Only 28% of Farm Aid revenue goes to family farmers
On Sunday in Tinley Park, IL, the Farm Aid Concerts will take place. The first Farm Aid was held in 1985; it's goal was to raise money for struggling family farmers. The aim for the following Farm Aid gigs has remain unchanged: with the the exception of 2001 (9/11) and this year (Hurricane Katrina).
The 2005 feautured performers are Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Neil Young and Dave Matthews.
But there are serious problems with Farm Aid, namely, very little of the money raised goes to family farmers.
Free registration required, from the Chicago Tribune:
Or, try this AP version of the article, which has no registration requirements. The below excerpt is from the Trib.
Even before Willie Nelson strums his first chord Sunday at this year's Farm Aid show in Tinley Park, one of the concert's missions will have been accomplished: Upholding the family farm as an American icon.
But how much the Farm Aid organization helps those farmers financially is a different matter. The percentage of funds given away by the group is exceedingly low compared with money eaten up by expenses or not used.
Last year, Farm Aid donated less than 28 percent of its revenue, according to a review of the non-profit's records and policies. An organization should be giving away at least 65 percent of its revenue to be considered performing adequately, said Naomi Levine, a New York University expert on philanthropy.
The high-profile concert itself, which is also burdened by high expenses, provides only a small percentage of revenue to philanthropic causes.
Farm Aid, which has been more successful than any other group -- maybe even farmers themselves -- at advocating the need for family farms, dispensed $387,641 in 57 grants to local organizations in 2004. This was on total revenue of slightly more than $1.4 million, according to records filed with the Internal Revenue Service.