Idol Gives Back hopes to raise $100+ million; millions from last year are still unspent

Yesterday, Idol Gives Back taped parts of its show for Wednesday night, and producers said they hope to make more than $100 million–but they still have $5 million left over from last year’s show that hasn’t been designated to a charity, while a little under half of the $76 million has yet to be actually spent.

“We’re going to make over $100 million this year. I can feel it,” executive producer Nigel Lythgoe told the crowd on Sunday, according to Reuters. The money raised last year, now estimated at $76 million, was distributed to nine charities, according to an earlier AP story.

Now, The New York Times reports that “[b]ecause that money was designated to be given to the charities over two years, a little more than half of it has been distributed so far, officials at the charities said.” In addition, $5 million remains to be pledged or distributed.

That’s unofficial, though, as “officials at the charity have declined to release a formal accounting of last year’s effort. A spokesman for the Charity Projects Entertainment Fund, the organization that oversaw the fund-raising and distribution, said its financial statements were being audited and would be released by the federal financial reporting deadline for charities in May,” the New York Times reports.

The paper breaks down the numbers and finds that “$5 million of last year’s proceeds and interest remains undistributed,” while “[a]bout $5 million of the total was used for administrative costs, including paying for the telephone lines to accept the contributions and the legal and other costs associated with making sure that the recipients had good plans for the money. At 7 percent of the direct contributions to ‘Idol Gives Back,’ that is a generally lower amount than used by most charities for overhead.”

Overall, $55 million came from viewers, $14 million from corporations, and $7 million “from corporations and foundations that made direct or matching grants to the charities designated to receive money.” Interestingly, while last year, the Charity Projects Entertainment Fund coordinated the fundraiser, this year it “will be more directly overseen by the producers of ‘American Idol’ under a new charity, which has taken the name of the fund-raiser, Idol Gives Back,” the paper says.

“Idol” charity show hopes to top $100 million [Reuters]
Where ‘Idol’s’ Charitable Arm Reaches [New York Times]

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.