Lady Gaga's album-themed charity only gave out $5,000 in grants in 2012, after spending $1.85 million on lawyer, PR and social media fees. As the New York Post gleefully reported Wednesday, the Born This Way Foundation's tax filings show several five- and six-figure fees for things like legal costs ($406,552), publicity ($58,678), social media ($50,000) and “philanthropic consulting" ($150,000). The tax forms don't, however, say where the funds came from — and in 2011 Gaga announced that she would front the bulk of the money for the foundation when it launched the next year.
In a statement the foundation said all of these fees "directly serves the Born This Way Foundation’s core mission of empowering youth." On the one hand she has given her money and her time to several organizations over the years, and some of these fees may be legitimate start up costs. But when you compare $348,000 to get together the bus for the Born This Way tour with $5,000 in grants, it falls short.
And this isn't the first time she's been accused of mishandling money for charity. In 2011, Gaga and others were sued for allegedly profiting off of bracelets being sold to raise money for the Japan earthquake — the suit alleged that she and Universal Music Group overcharged on shipping, and therefore profited. (Gaga ended up settling.)
The real question is how much will this discourage little monsters from donating in the future, if at all. Her next big public appearance will be at SXSW, where she'll be the youngest ever keynote speakers, as well as the first female speaker in 15 years. Odds are she'll probably talk about the Born This Way Foundation.