For the past four years, Viva el Birdos has been a proud participant in the Cardinals Care 6K - a race that takes the runner around downtown St. Louis and ends on the field at Busch Stadium. It is a wonderful event and a lot of fun for all who participate. Part of the fun in the race is the quest to get donations. Over the past four years, Viva el Birdos has raised over $15,000 for the charity mostly thanks to contributions from community members. It is one of my favorite things we take part in at this site.
Cardinals Care was established in 1997 and since then has invested nearly $21 million to support St. Louis area children. These donations go towards non-profit organizations and the building of youth baseball fields. It also goes to an organization called "Redbird Rookies", where the nearly 4000 participants are able to play in a free baseball league and are provided all the game necessities such as uniforms, balls, bats, and gloves in addition to things like off field support in health, education, mentoring, and cultural arts. This program allows many children to play baseball that normally would not be afforded the opportunity.
All of this is important because on Friday Deadspin published an article with questions about the organization's tax forms. In particular, the article questioned a $347,000 charge to the charity from the St. Louis Cardinals. Deadspin attempted to contact Cardinals Care several times to clarify the charges, but were unsuccessful.
So I asked them.
The answer was pretty simple and what I had suspected after speaking with my trusty accountant (Hi, Mom). Per Ron Watermon, Vice President of Communications:
...the St. Louis Cardinals provide Cardinals Care with all of the staffing & overhead to run the foundation through an arms-length negotiated annual management contract.
Cardinals Care's annual 990 form reflects a payment to the team for a management agreement whereby the team handles all the staffing, insurance, rent and overhead of running the foundation. This common structure is in accordance with the law and best practice accounting principles.
When we created Cardinals Care, we structured the foundation in the manner we felt was the most efficient in order to ensure that we maximize the amount of money we invest in the core mission of helping children and not devote resources to staff & overhead. The benefits of the approach we follow are that is cleaner from an accounting standpoint. Cardinals Care doesn't need to hire staff, rent space or worry about any of the typical overhead costs of running the charitable foundation so it can focus on the mission. Another benefit of this approach is that the St. Louis Cardinals pay taxes to the city, state and federal government. If we configured it otherwise, the team would receive a tax deduction.
Again, this all checks out with my research and limited expertise in this area. It is also important to note that the St. Louis Cardinals have a $1.4 billion net worth. Skimming a mere 0.025% of that from its charity just does not make a lot of sense for the organization to do. So, if there were any doubts about the legitimacy of Cardinals Care, I feel comfortable putting them to rest with this written confirmation from the organization.
On that note, the deadline to donate to Cardinals Care for the 6K is only a month away. If you donate $40 or more, you will receive this beautiful Jim Edmonds shirt. I would like to to order the shirts by the August 17, so please try to donate and e-mail me with your shirt size and mailing address before then. Scott B. is also doing a raffle to raise money. You can read more about that here. We are also looking for more runners! Feel free to sign up with Viva el Birdos Team One, if you are interested in helping fundraise, or Viva el Birdos Team Two, if you just want to run and do the minimum fundraising!