There are two things I hate despise in this world: when people attempt to tell me how I should spend my time and how I should spend my money. I find it both insulting and presumptuous for someone to tell me how to spend what I can never get back (time) and what I work hard for (money). So as I formulate my thoughts on this issue, I am going to try very hard not to become what I hate.
The Daily recently reported that while Jay-Z earned an estimated $63 million dollars in 2010, he only donated $6,431 to his own charity, the Shawn Carter Scholarship Foundation. That’s around 0.01% of his annual salary. Sounds kind of pathetic, right? In Jay-Z’s defense, he often donates the profits from his performances to charity. In fact, in 2011, one of his performances helped raise $1.25 million for his charity. Seeing that he’s helping bring in money, is it really necessary for the Jigga Man to write a check to his charity?
Last summer, I participated in United Way of Atlanta’s Volunteer Involvement Program, which provides training for perspective non-profit board members. One of the first, and most thoroughly, lessons we learned in this program was to financially support the organization that we were working with. If we aren’t giving to our organization, how can we expect others to? If we’re not advocating for a cause that’s important enough for us to sacrifice financially, why should anyone else give to that cause? And while Jay-Z undoubtedly lends his name, talent and star power to his namesake charity, if I were him, I would also write a check, and here’s why.
First is the scripture that was forever merged into my soul while attending Spelman College. Luke 12:48 reads: “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Spelman sums this scripture up by saying, “To whom much is given, much is required.” God does not give us money, experiences, lessons, and exposure for us to simply hoard them for ourselves and our families. He gives us these great opportunities so that we can share them with others who may not be able to experience the greatness we’ve been blessed with. In my mind, sharing what I’ve been given is not a choice; it’s a requirement.
The second thing that comes to mind would be my name and my reputation. In 2010, three people made cash donations to the Shawn Carter Scholarship Foundation, and of those three donors, Shawn Carter himself came in third. I’d be “dag gone” if I’m a millionaire and I allow EVERY OTHER DONOR to outgive me when it comes to MY charity. I’d be embarrassed if I rubbed elbows with some of the wealthiest and most influential people in Hollywood and my charity only had three donors whose donations totaled $218,849. Seriously, Jay-Z has Warren Buffet on speed dial; there just doesn’t seem to be a reason for his charity to underperform (my opinion) like this.
In an effort to stick to my goal of not telling Jay-Z what he should do with the money he has rightful earned, I will simply say I would be pleased to see his charity become more active and involved in giving back to those living the experiences he often raps about. It’s important that each of us do what we can to build up and help develop those around us. And during a time when the cost of a college education is out pacing what middle class families can afford, a scholarship from the Shawn Carter Scholarship Foundation would definitely be a gift to kids from urban, working class families who find it difficult to even dream of paying for the college education they so desperately need to succeed by today’s standards.
I write this with the best intention. And while it would be great if this blog inspired Jigga to give more (money) and help more (students), I’m just as hopeful that I’ve inspired you to use all that you’ve been given to help make someone else’s life a little better. Each one, teach one. #GiveBack
While you’re deciding how you will give back, enjoy a portion of Jay-Z’s Carnegie Hall performance from this week. Proceeds were split between the Shawn Carter Scholarship Foundation and United Way of New York. I love the orchestra behind his lyrics. The entire concept of a hip hop orchestra fascinates me!