web analytics
May 5, 2015 / 16 Iyar, 5775
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post


Home » News & Views » US »

Donald Sterling’s Dollars: Charities Face Dilemmas With Tainted Donors


Donald Sterling

Donald Sterling

When Donald Sterling’s racist rant hit the news, you could practically hear the jostling at the microphone by those eager to denounce the Los Angeles Clippers owner.

For the beneficiaries of Sterling’s largesse, the denunciations took on a special imperative as a means of distancing themselves from his views.

Several Jewish organizations have taken Sterling’s money, including the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance and the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. The L.A. Jewish Journal listed 11 Jewish groups that have received money in recent years from the Donald T. Sterling Foundation.

“Last year we took the $10,000 from him,” Jay Sanderson, president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, told JTA. “We’re not going to take it anymore.”

Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center made a similar remark to the Jewish Journal.

The strongest statement came from the NBA, which banned Sterling for life, fined him $2.5 million and now is seeking to force him to sell the Clippers.

Sterling’s foundation has given relatively modest amounts to Jewish groups in recent years given his great wealth. According to the Jewish Journal, 10 of the Jewish groups received gifts of $10,000, some for several years running. Sterling, who is Jewish, also gave $50,000 to Yeshiva Gedolah of Los Angeles in 2010.

Whatever the sums, the ethical dilemmas facing nonprofits when confronted with donations from benefactors of ill repute are hardly clear-cut.

Associating with troubled donors can harm an organization’s reputation, and accepting the money may raise questions about its values and priorities.

Conversely, nonprofits are strapped for cash, and if the money is going to a good cause, does turning down money from troubled sources do more harm than good?

Even when the donor is a public scoundrel, that should not automatically disqualify him, several leaders of Jewish charity groups told JTA.

“We are obliged to help others with the resources we have,” said Mark Charendoff, head of the Maimonides Fund. “I don’t think accepting tzedakah from someone leads to an obligation.”

The key question, Charendoff said, is whether the donor asks for something in return. If the donor wants some kind of endorsement – a gala dinner honor, the naming of a building or, as in Sterling’s case, the right to trumpet donations in newspaper advertisements – then the organization essentially has traded money for an endorsement. That makes the donor a partner rather than merely a supporter.

“If it appears that a requirement of the gift is an endorsement of his character, then I think that’s problematic,” Charendoff said.

Even in such cases, however, there could be compelling ethical reasons to take the money. For example, the donor offers $3 million to an organization that buys cancer drugs for children in Africa who otherwise would not have access to medicine. If the money is rejected, taking a moral stand comes at the price of kids’ lives.

The rules are different if the source of the donor’s money is ill-gotten gains, many say.

“There’s a difference between being a public jerk and being a criminal,” said Andres Spokoiny, CEO of the Jewish Funders Network. “There’s a clear-cut line when it comes to monies that are fueled by criminal or non-ethical activities. I think the line there is pretty clear and everybody sort of accepts that as a red line.”

But not everyone agrees that criminality automatically disqualifies a donor.

Years before he became the head of L.A.’s Jewish federation, Sanderson worked at a drug rehab program where every Friday, he said, he would find a paper bag on his desk with cash, sometimes in the thousands of dollars. Sanderson never knew who left the cash until he caught the person leaving the money; it immediately became clear that its source was the sale of illegal drugs.

About the Author: Uriel Heilman is managing editor of JTA. An award-winning journalist, he has worked in a variety of positions for publications in the United States and in Israel, including as New York bureau chief of the Jerusalem Post.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “Donald Sterling’s Dollars: Charities Face Dilemmas With Tainted Donors”

  1. Will they consider all of their donors in the same way??

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
President Ruby Rivlin greets new Olim as they step off the plane.
6 Anglo Aliyah Immigrants to Receive NBN Bonei Zion Prize
Latest News Stories
Dragon Boats on the Yarkon 1

A Dragon Boat festival was held in Tel Aviv on the Yarkon River last Friday. Looks like fun.

Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked

With just a day to go, Bennett finally gives serious push-back to Netanyahu’s threats and inadequate proposals.

President Ruby Rivlin greets new Olim as they step off the plane.

Six immigrants from English-speaking countries will receive awards from Nefesh B’Nefesh at a ceremony next Tuesday.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry is telling its citizens not to travel to Nepal and telling those already there to think twice about extending their stays there due to rising hazards.

The oldest copy of the Ten Commandments in the world is on display at Israel’s national museum.

The Israeli-Arab dentist personally and systematically transferred Hamas’s terror money on a daily basis…

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert brought to court Tuesday morning a letter from former “peace process” broker Tony Blair in an effort to stay out of jail for his conviction of pocketing approximately $150,000 from Morris Talansky of New York. The prosecution asked the court to jail Olmert for more up to 18 months. The […]

“We tell America that what is coming is more bitter and harder.”

The Islamic University does not want to blow its cover and lose foreign aid.

The war on terror is being carried out by Israel and not the Palestinian Authority.

Police have arrested a 16-year-old resident of Bat Ayin in Gush Etzion Tuesday on suspicion of having vandalized Arab olive trees and throwing rocks at Arabs. The teenager, who learns in Yitzhar in Samaria, is scheduled to appear in court today.

Yehuda Glick finally can return to the holy site, but only once a month.

“It is indisputable that the dominant factor behind Aliyah to Israel from Western Europe is anti-Semitism.”

The test was planned, but the Defense Ministry is mum on details.

Netanyahu is short-changing Bayit Yehudi. But is Bayit Yehudi tough enough to take advantage of Liberman’s sudden exit?

More Articles from Uriel Heilman
U.S. President Barack Obama.

How do some of the other issues Obama discussed in his 2013 U.N. General Assembly speech look through today’s lens?

Gazan terrorist with a rocket.

How is it that the journalists aren’t able to get any images of Palestinians fighting the Israelis?

Despite some limited success, after every conflagration Hamas has managed to re-arm and improve its rocket capacity, as evident in the rocket range on display in this round of fighting.

Over the years, the ADL has been criticized for overstating what qualifies as anti-Semitism, with critics suggesting that some of the statements used to measure bias actually are more indicative of admiration for Jews than anti-Jewish hostility.

“Last year we took the $10,000 from him,” Jay Sanderson, president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, told JTA. “We’re not going to take it anymore.”

“More than the Jews have kept the Shabbos (Sabbath), the Shabbos has kept the Jews.”

The battle over partnership minyans is just the latest scuffle in the war over women’s roles in the Orthodox community.

Last week, a man who tried to build a pipe bomb for use in New York, Jose Pimentel, was sentenced to 16 years in prison on terrorism charges under laws Halberstam helped draft.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/us-news/donald-sterlings-dollars-charities-face-dilemmas-with-tainted-donors/2014/05/07/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: