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Budgets Aren’t Balance Sheets! and other Basic (USA)Facts about Billionaires’ Philanthropic Behaviors, Such as of 2014-retired Microsoft CEO Steven Ballmer + His Wife Connie [Aug. 4, 2018]

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I started to weave some of this information into a different post, anticipating writing further on it.

However, after about a days’ hunt for two (STILL not found yet) EIN#s connected with the famous philanthropists mentioned in the title, and after reading the tax returns / shabby filing habits of one of the no doubt much smaller ones also associated (referring to the Los Angeles Clippers Foundation — Steven Ballmer also owns the Los Angeles Clippers), I felt it better to sequester this topic onto its own post.

Too bad, because, understood better, it adds weight to the original argument — most headlines involved nonprofits at SOME level, and we’d be better off as a whole, when they come up, to look them up!

Anyhow:  My post title:

Budgets Aren’t Balance Sheets! and other Basic (USA)Facts about Billionaires’ Philanthropic Behaviors, Such as of 2014-retired Microsoft CEO Steven Ballmer + His Wife Connie [July, 2018] (short-link ends “-982”).  Started mid-July, published Aug. 4, 2018, at about 9,000 words (tags added later).  It comes from the middle of Two Plaintiffs’ Counsel Nonprofits for Class Action Lawsuit (℅ Center for Investigative Reporting article) (Short-link ends “-95X,” published 7/31/2018).

CLICK IMAGE TO READ!  Good Ventures (Public, ℅ SVCF) Form 990, FY2016 Sched L acknowledging ICONIQ Capital’s “Interested Person” status through 35% owner, Divesh Makan (viewed 8/4/2018)

The post title could also reference, and I do include for comparison, two other philanthropic couples, both with close ties to Facebook and a multi-billion-dollar Silicon Valley Community Foundation (“SVCF”) formed by merger to reach $1 billion assets only in 2006.

Besides Zuckerberg’s apparent direct involvement in (funding) SVCF and with Iconiq Capital’s Divesh Makan (discussed below) from before Facebook went public, these two couples also headed two of SVCF’s many “related tax-exempt organizations” formed since 2006 (samples below).  However, the Chan-Zuckerberg related organization dissolved itself in 2016 into multiple other “CZI” branded LLCs (Delaware entities) while more “CZI” branded nonprofits were then started up (again, shown below).

CLICK IMAGE TO READ! Good Ventures (Public, ℅ SVCF) Form 990, FY2016 Sched O showing entwined relationships (viewed 8/4/2018)

So husband-and wife couples Priscilla Chan & Mark Zuckerberg (Startup: Education + the more recent Chan Zuckerberg Initiative) and Dustin Moskovitz & Cari Tuna, have overlapping mutual foundation interests. Zuckerberg and Moskovitz were Facebook co-founders, and one major mutual foundation in common is the Silicon Valley Community Foundation in Santa Clara County, (SF Bay Area) California.

Moskovitz & Tuna’s variety of “Good Ventures” entities (one public (<==EIN#452757586, 2016 tax return), one private (<==EIN#461008520, 2015 tax return) foundation and an LLC) collectively report (2016) over $1B Assets (the LLC’s assets are unknown; LLCs don’t have to reveal their financials to the public). (Next 3-image gallery shows: 1) Total combined gross Assets from these two “Good Ventures” foundations (along with some others) in table form, and 2), 3) self-disclosure on multiple entities from the organization’s website.

GoodVentures.com the website was (still is, generally) initially confusing until I looked up the referenced organizations financials. That website doesn’t overtly feature “SVCF” but instead “GiveWell” and “Open Philanthropy Project,” which (like Startup: Education — and Good Ventures) seems to keep changing its format and, correspondingly, its reporting requirements, using one sound-byte (or trademark) for multiple organizations.  GiveWell it also turns out is a trade name (‘dba’) not an entity name.

The public “Good Ventures” foundation (℅ SVCF) has only 3 officers:  Cari Tuna, Dustin Moskovitz, and Divesh Makan, and the (highly paid) board / officers of related SVCF (as of tax return 2016).

There are investment managers in common among these various foundations and LLCs (ICONIQ Capital, Apercen Partners, Square Seven Management**) showing up: as “℅” on the addresses; as well-paid independent subcontractors (Form 990 Pt. VIIB); and/or as “(Form 990 Sched L) Interested-Person Transactions,” or (as in Good Ventures example imaged above) as might be reported on a tax return under Schedule O, “Supplemental Information”). … For the LLCs, searchable in California at BusinessSearch.sos.ca.gov, they show up as either listed “managers” and/or at the same street address + Suite#s entity addresses.

(**Square Seven Management LLC it says is managed by Iconiq Capital LLC, a Delaware Entity)

These networked billionaires work through networked foundations and similarly named LLCs to: move the money, pool the assets, and use common investment managers often, who invest alongside them and are paid fees and percentages of “AUM,” assets under management (presumably).

Who knows, perhaps that’s what ‘APERCEN” in “Apercen Partners” refers to – “A percen(t).”  (Just kidding…)

Investopedia 2/28/2016 article (Mark P. Cussen), “Are AUM Fees a Thing of the Past?” (Click image to enlarge or click through for article).

Search “AUM fees” for several results.  Here’s an interesting and quick-read one from March 28, 2018: “Why AUM-Based Fees Don’t Meet Fiduciary Standards” by Bert Whitehead of “Cambridge, Connection, Inc.  “Advisor Perspectives.”  Another from Guideline.com (What is an AUM Fee?), and from Investopedia that they may be going out of fashion: Are AUM Fees a Thing of the Past? by By Mark P. Cussen, CFP®, CMFC, AFC | February 12, 2016.  Notice these are all written by financial advisors of one kind or another, see all the initials after that last author (and nearby image)

 

The networked billionaires then advertise their own work on websites which post, typically, no identification (or minimal and not the most recent by far) of tax returns for specific foundations, or evidence of any LLC filings, or audited financial statements. Where would those audited financial statements be found?  While sometimes the California OAG may post audited financial reports under individual foundation’s “Details” page, for these (I’m reporting on herein) it doesn’t seem to.

The spider-like nature (multiple related organizations, with separate identities but apparently common SVCF management) and behavior of SVCF blurs the IRS’ definition (when movement of money is shown) of “supporting organization” (the “support” seems to be going in the opposite direction) and the concept of actual independent entities, when the independent entities simply delegate administration and management to the controlling one (here, SVCF), paying its board and/or employees handsomely for the fees, and retaining (both supporting and supported, i.e. SVCF, organizations) most assets while granting out (for several of these SVCF-managed related organizations) millions of dollars more in a given year than is taken in — some “budget” — knowing that their rich benefactors will either cough up some more, or close it down as part of an obviously pre-determined exit strategy.

Overall it seems to be more about the investments held by and funds moving between multiple nonprofits under common management (including some of the boards) than about the advertised projects.  Another reason I say, watch the Balance Sheets as much as if not more than the Budget.

Also complicating comparisons among multiple entities, even of public with private ones under common management or ownership:

Differences between public (990s) and private (990PF) filings (unofficial, deduced just through observation)…making cross-comparisons from the same wealth source harder for the average person, although the purpose of by law (Internal Revenue Code) making them public at all, one would think, is for the average person, “the public,” — not just potential donors — to understand how entities with tax-exempt privilege are in fact operating and what they are doing with that privileged status.

My comments refer to IRS Forms 990 since substantial revisions in 2008 only. I have spent more time looking at the more recent forms, although I often do go back before 2008 for specific entities.

  • PUBLIC 990-filing foundations have to categorize types of investments on their balance sheets (Part X, since the IRS Form 2008ff) and provide more detail on Schedule “D” to Part X for any amounts for Other Investments or “Other Assets,” but do not have to name which exact corporate/public-traded or other investments are held.   
  • Public foundations also in their grantmaking are to supply EIN#s for grantees
  • Public foundations by IRS form have to segregate domestic and foreign grants on different schedules (Schedule I, Schedule F) 
  • PRIVATE 990PF-filing foundationsremember, Good Ventures has one of each both formed about 2012 it says — do list how many shares of exactly which investments, and grouped by type, but do not (as I understand it/I may be wrong about that) have to categorize them on the tax return’s balance sheet statements as to type.  
  • PRIVATE (990PF-filing foundations) in listing their grants do not have to separate domestic (USA) and foreign (non-USA) grants — and some of these are granting out millions with very long lists.  They also are not required to provide EIN#s for any grantee, making fact-checking or follow-up harder; especially when grantees can and do tend to change their names, or if the name & address recorded on the 990PF do not match reality.
  • The PROBLEM: Together, this makes obtaining an overall view on any single enterprises’ (or individuals’) financial impact on specific projects. The information is dispersed, and it’s recorded in different reporting formats even when the money may be coming from the same source (i.e., same extraordinary personal wealth).
  • Movement / re-branding of business entities over time:
    • The project & organization “Open Philanthropy” at “GiveWell” (to which GoodVentures and others have been contributing) then morphed into “Open Philanthropy” (so far, I’ve located three types of entities:  LLC, 501©3 — barely funded — and 501©4 — startup funding about $55M!!). Some details below, see also list of “tags” for this post which name several of the entities.
    • GiveWell and Open Philanthropy bring up two more names (both young(ish) men, not a “couple”), Holden Karnofsky & Elie Hassenfeld, as well as the hedge fund investment management firm (Bridgewater Associates) where they met and came from.  More on this below the next aqua-highlit paragraph and “Open Philanthropy Action Fund” tax return table.
      • Not shown this post, but I’ve looked at several (at least five) of the largest donors GiveWell has been recommending and looked up their tax returns since this post was published Aug. 4, 2018.  I also did a chrono review of GiveWell (“The Clear Fund’s) tax returns as far back as 990finder provides. I wouldn’t give any of them a “C+” on transparency or reporting, and some (Imperial College Foundation, Atlanta GA) an “F” (just moving money to a well-endowed UK London,UK college).
      • Among the grantees, Harvard grads are “everywhere,” particularly at Evidence Action, which has a well-stated relationship with GiveWell as a sponsor, also with organization’s I’d run across and blogged separately associated with behavioral modification studies on the poor in developing countries. J-PAL and IPA (Innovations for Poverty Action). Search Alix Petersen Zwane for more insight.
      • Around 2011/2012, Cari Tuna shows up on the Board and GiveWell’s entity address goes cross-country (NY to SF), and funds start pouring in.
      • As I have said several times, “Harvard/Bain/Bridgespan” investment model in action.
    • Startup Education (of SVCF) morphed into Chan Zuckerberg (or “CZI”) initiatives, and so forth.  Several details (in image gallery format and described) below. See also list of “tags” for this post which name several of them.
The various websites always advertise how philanthropic and altruistic the causes are while, typically not showing the real picture behind the money movement, dispersal, and in general, obfuscation.

Personally, I find it hypocritical and stunningly arrogant. Failure to disclose their own financials while collaborating with their own social niches to channel grants to nonprofits which then lecture the public at large about better management of public institutions [health, education, criminal justice, housing, civil rights, immigration, racial equity — you name it] and how to “improve” them in this fashion and through these strategies.  Look at enough tax returns and related websites, and the background picture comes into clearer focus.

It is the tax returns (and, where available, AUDITED financial statements, plus name-change records at the Secretary of State (or corresponding state-level business filing databases; in California it’s the Secretary of State, others, may be Dept. of Revenue or of Corporations), and not the literal self-descriptions in words and (of course) appealing, empathy-insiring photos which provide the better interpretation of what the organizations are doing. Even site-visits or personal acquaintance (i.e., experiential impressions) cannot override the vitality of financials in comprehending WHAT — at this level of sponsored projects, nonprofits, and grant-making foundations etc. — the rich have in mind for the poor, as opposed to for themselves.  
Do this while you can, because indicators are that some of these privately controlled foundations (or their projects) are spinning off into LLCs.  One example shown in detail below (SVCF’s Startup: Education into Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative LLC); likewise the Good Ventures’ featured “Open Philanthropy Project” and promotion of (another couple’s 2007-formed) “GiveWell” foundation (See GoodVentures.com or the 3-image gallery above to note) has spun off into, not its own, transparent, tax-return filing (for public information) 501©3, but instead another LLC.

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Written by Let's Get Honest

August 4, 2018 at 2:22 pm

Posted in 1996 TANF PRWORA (cat. added 11/2011)

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