How much do the Chargers love Los Angeles? First came word via L.A.’s Street-Hassle blog that the team’s PR honcho and all-around fix-it guru-in-chief Mark Fabiani gave $1000 to L.A. mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel. Now an examination of the 2009 federal 990 IRS return for the nonprofit San Diego Chargers Charities, filed last November, reveals that the charity gave $25,504 to UCLA in “Individual Scholarship” funds but only $19,250 to the University of San Diego. No other San Diego County universities were listed as recipients. Other institutions of higher learning listed as getting money from the charity were Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Claremont McKenna College, Georgetown University, UC Berkeley, and UC Irvine, all $7000 each. Harvard received $1600. The grand total was $81,354.
According to a statement on the group’s Form 990, the purpose of Chargers Charities is to “support, encourage, and create projects or events that will improve the quality of life for the community of San Diego.” Among local beneficiaries of the charity were the Make-A-Wish Foundation ($34,000); Community Quarterback grants to youth football ($17,500); elementary and secondary school grants ($169,000); and high school Coach of the Week grants ($21,000). All of the non-college recipients, with the exception of a Temecula school, were in the county.
The disclosure lists four fundraising events that the nonprofit says raised a total of $78,992, including the “Champions Honor Dinner” and a “Jr. Charger Girls” event, but total direct expenses were $57,832, leaving a net income of just $21,160. In general, compared to the year prior, 2009 was tough for the nonprofit. In 2008, Chargers Charities booked $627,414 in contributions and grants. In 2009, it only got $142,913. In 2008, the nonprofit handed out $500,804 in “grants and similar amounts paid.” In 2009, it was down to $327,854. Even with that lower number, the charity’s revenue less expenses was a negative $175,823. Its net assets dropped from $278,125 to $102,302.
In an emailed statement, Chargers spokesman Bill Johnston said, “The Chargers Community Foundation has been and continues to be one of San Diego’s leaders in the support [of] youth sports and education in our community. There has been no change in the Foundation’s commitment.” He added that “the Foundation and the [Spanos] family have provided more than $11 [million] since 1995 to support a wide range of services and resources for programs directly affecting youth and families in the county.”
“The team’s contributions to the Foundation may vary from year to year, depending on the amount raised by the Foundation as well as the Foundation’s commitments. The Foundation also delayed the announcement of grants to Chargers Champions schools in 2009, the Foundation’s 10th anniversary, by approximately six months to correspond with our season. This change has caused those grants to actually be issued in ’10 and beyond. In addition, the Foundation’s efforts have been affected by the economy, just as other non-profits in our community have been affected.”