New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's ties with Best Buddies International, a nonprofit dedicated to helping intellectually and developmentally disabled people, has also been a major source of funding for Brady’s own charitable goals, according to a detailed account of the financial relationship from Bob Hohler of The Boston Globe.
Brady has become a prominent figure for Best Buddies and helped them raise more than $20 million in the last six years. The non-profit has also paid $2.75 million to Brady’s Change the World Foundation Trust and has pledged to grant the organization an additional $500,000 in 2017 for a a total of $3.25 million. As the Globe reports:
"Brady, the sole trustee of his private charity, initially funded the nonprofit with a donation of $490,000 in 2005. Since then he has not made a significant financial contribution, according to tax reports through 2015, the most recently available.
Instead, Best Buddies has almost entirely funded Brady’s foundation. Through 2015, nearly 98 percent of Change the World’s total contributions of $2.3 million since Brady’s initial donation were $2.25 million in grants from Best Buddies. Including Brady’s donation, the percentage is about 80%."
According to The Globe, independent charity monitors did not believe anything to be illegal about the arrangement. Charity watchdogs addressed that "it is not unusual for nonprofits to pay celebrities to help raise money, and they did not dispute that Best Buddies has realized an enviable return on its relationship with Brady." Questions have been raised whether Best Buddies should properly report the annual payments as fund-raising expenses rather than charitable gifts.
The founder and chairman of Best Buddies said there is no contract and just expects to donate $500,000 annually to Brady’s trust.
"I think it has been a smart move, because we have been able to provide services to tens of thousands of people because of Tom, while keeping him engaged and helping him pursue some of his own interests," Best Buddies founder and chairman Anthony K. Shriver toldThe Globe. “It has been super beneficial to us and him."
The largest benefactor from the money at Change the World Foundation Trust is Junipero Serra High School, which received $250,000. The Santa Monica Catholic Community has also received $100,000. The trust has also donated to charities headed by some of Brady's teammates.
“It’s not all bad, because he is helping an important cause,’’ one charity watchdog said. “But he could help Best Buddies to a much greater extent if he didn’t take their money’’ for his own charitable trust.