According to an internal Fox memo leaked on December 9th, American Idol and Fox have canceled the annual charity event "Idol Gives Back" for the upcoming season. This would have been the third year for the star studded event which raised $70 million in 2007 and an estimated $60 million in 2008. It seems that that several factors including a weakened economy may have contributed to the cancellation of the young event.
Idol Gives and Takes Away
It is extremely disheartening to see this fundraiser canceled, especially when the need for donations at many of these charities has grown. In the past, American Idol supported Feed America, Boys and Girls Club and the Children's Health Fund. Additionally, the program has raised money for many charities which work to eliminate poverty and sickness in Africa.
Despite concerns over some un-dispersed funds, Idol Gives Back only uses 7% of the donations for overhead. In comparison many national charities spend above 10% on administrative and fundraising expenses according to CharityNavigator.com.
Even though the leaked memo makes no mention of the reason for canceling Idol Gives Back 2009, I can't help but wonder if there are concerns about securing corporate sponsorships which made up a bulk of the donations. One of the major sponsors in 2008 was Ford and given the recent scrutiny that bailed out companies are receiving, charitable giving, even when tied to advertising, may be reined in. If the government is going to be giving to charity, they might as well do it directly.
Hopefully donors will continue to support these programs by giving directly to the charities.