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Today, DeSean Jackson(‘s agent) and media people have used Jackson’s charitable endeavors as a way to paint him in a favorable light. OK. Let’s take a look at his charitable work. Sure, he does a lot with the anti-bullying campaign and his mother, Gayle, does some work under The DeSean Jackson Foundation to promote literacy and health. But it’s that DeSean Jackson Foundation that provides us the only gauge to measure how charitable DeSean actually is.

[A similar version of the rest of this appeared in a post last year on the site.]

In 2009, pancreatic cancer claimed the life of DeSean Jackson’s father, Bill. The next year, DeSean and his mom, Gayle, founded the DeSean Jackson Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer, whose stated mission is to raise awareness of the disease and help the families and victims of the deadly cancer. The charity encouraged a 10-10-10 rule: spend 10 minutes to learn about pancreatic cancer, tell 10 people and donate $10. It held large, swanky galas to raise awareness and money for cancer research. But it succeeded more in the awareness category than the funds category.

Thanks to Pro Public’s new Nonprofit Explorer, a searchable database of 990 tax forms, we now know that DeSean lost more in a rap battle to Meek Mill than his charity donated to cancer-related causes. Because exactly zero dollars were given to patients, families or cancer research.

Tax documents filed for 2009-2011 (fiscal years July 2009 – June 2010, July 2010 – June 2011, July 2011-June 2012) show that the foundation took in roughly $86k in contributions and spent at least $85k on hosting two galas, with no money ever being donated to charity, according to the filings.

Here’s the financial information from the 2010 and 2011 tax years:

Voila_Capture 2014-03-28_03-42-25_PMYou can certainly argue that the two events raised quite a bit of awareness for pancreatic cancer and, in doing so, saved a few lives. Maybe. But the message surrounding those events didn’t exactly match their outcome:

Philly.com, May 14, 2011:

For days he made the media rounds in Philadelphia, promoting the event and putting his name back in headlines for the first time since January.

The gala, which drew roughly a dozen Eagles in a mini offseason reunion, was personal for Jackson as he tried to raise money for a disease that took his father’s life in 2009. While it’s a reminder of a sad moment, Jackson also hoped it would honor his father, William.


Please donate $10.00 to the DeSean Jackson Foundation to help us raise funds for Pancreatic Cancer Research and support for those diagnosed with the disease and their primary caregivers.

FOX Philly, May 13, 2011:

We want to help research, help doctors find a cure for this disease. Want to knock this disease out.

Now, none of this is to say that DeSean’s foundation is a failure. Far from it, perhaps. Though the website seems to have disappeared, his Foundation sponsored a health fair at Temple – which DeSean showed up to – as recently as last April and continues to host free F.A.S.T. camps for children, as well as other awareness-raising events. And it’s important to note that none of the four members listed as officers of the foundation – DeSean, Gayle, treasurer Michael Ladge or secretary Traci Ray, the foundation’s principal officer – were reported to have been paid any money in 2009-2012, meaning that, unlike certain athlete charities, DeSean’s foundation wasn’t a front to give family members and friends jobs. In fact, DeSean may have spent more on the foundation than he took in. In addition, he lends his time to anti-bullying campaigns and other assorted events. And, last September, he very publicly donated $50,000 in the name of his charity to the Wounded Warriors Project, which has nothing to do with cancer, but is a good cause nonetheless.

I can’t find any other evidence of the DeSean Jackson Foundation making a contribution. Though D-Jac did drop $25k on a bar tab in 2011.

There is a criteria for measuring effective charities, and the Better Business Bureau and other organizations use this rule of thumb: at least 65% of total expenses should go toward program services or causes and fundraising costs should be no more than 35% of contributions.

So how did DeSean do?

In 2012, the foundation spent $34k and took in just $16k in contributions. In 2011, the $250 per plate gala barely raised enough ($43,659) to cover its cost– $38,862. In total that year the foundation spent just north of $50k (no one took a salary) and listed only the $43,659 as revenue. The gala was listed as the only notable activity for the year. The prior year, 2010, the foundation raised $26,460, but listed no expenses whatsoever. The balance sheet simply reads a profit of $26,460 for the 2009 fiscal year, which is probably more of a lazy accounting issue than anything else.

The point is, DeSean is praised by some for his charity work. But no evidence exists that his foundation ever actually donated money to charity. It just held large, swanky galas which made DeSean look good.* It appears to have worked, too.

*To be fair, this is pretty much the true goal of many “charities.”