Ex-Seattle QB’s Foundation Pocketed Half of All Millions Raised
Russell Wilson has almost always been a divisive figure in Seattle sports, but his charitable accolades gave him a pass for most people in the northwest. Now we know that was mostly a lie.
Russel Wilson's Tarnished Legacy Destroyed by Investigation
Almost everyone was able to tell that Russell Wilson's personality was fake from the beginning, but Seattle fans gave him a pass because of the charitable work his foundation did. Now we know that less than half of the total millions raised went to actually help people. A large investigation of the foundation's finances by Jason Wolf and USA Today shows that it has donated less than 40% of the total raised to charitable activities, all as grants to other nonprofits since its creation. It also shows that Wilson and his foundation misled the impact of his foundation with deceptive statements to the media.
Russell Wilson's Why Not You Foundation Raised Millions
From the very beginning, Russell Wilson has been known for charitable actions because he talked about what he was doing all the time. He would talk about his visits to the local Seattle Children's Hospital and the money that his Why Not You Foundation had raised. The one thing that I have learned in listening to Wilson all these years is that everything he says is scripted and prepared. Just like most people, I was not paying attention to the exact words Wilson was actually saying, otherwise this investigation might not have been as much of a surprise.
Wilson Hands 2.7 Million Check to Seattle Hospital in Front of Fans
From 2017-2019 Russell Wilson handed large checks to a representative of Seattle Children's for large amounts of money his foundation was donating in front of Seahawks fans on the field. In 2019, Wilson and his wife Ciara are holding a check totaling $2.7 million that they present in front of almost 70,000 Seattle fans. Now tax records uncovered by the investigation show that in 2019 the Why Not You Foundation only donated $78,000 in 2019 to Seattle Children's Hospital or its foundation. It also shows that the Why Not You Foundation has only paid a total of $836,000 to Seattle Children’s Hospital and the Seattle Children’s Hospital Foundation since its creation in 2014.
Where is All the Money Raised Going?
The investigation by USA Today shows a startling amount of money being paid to fundraising, administrative, and management expenses which include the $1.9 million combined salary of three employees. The total amount kept by the foundation for those expenses equals $4.2 million of the total 7 million raised. In 2021, the investigation shows through tax documents that out of $1.2 million raised, the foundation only donated $340,000 spent on program services. The rest went to foundation costs. That means only $.27 for every dollar went to help someone in need from the foundation in 2021.
The Why Not You Foundation Answers Allegations
Scott Pickett, who is the Why Not You Foundation’s chief financial officer and president of West2East Empire, Wilson’s brand management and production company, says that the foundation was "built on working with third parties to raise money." He is trying to take credit for money raised by partners, not their own foundation with their statements. Pickett goes on to say "Millions of dollars in funds raised by the Why Not You Foundation go through our partners who can deliver that money where it is needed more directly. Those funds were raised, in large part, through the work of the foundation, but you would not see all of those dollars in the foundation’s tax documents."
Did Russell Wilson Create Foundation to Win NFL Man of the Year?
Russell Wilson created his foundation in 2014 and won the NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year award in 2020. There is one glaring fact that you might find interesting about this particular award. 23 of the last 26 winners of the award founded a non-profit organization before they won, almost every single player. Did Russell Wilson create the foundation for the sole purpose of winning NFLL Man of the Year? Judge for yourself, but it doesn't look good to me.
Wilson's Foundation Might be in Big Trouble
An accountant affiliated with the investigation named Andrew Morton says that the "third-party fundraising by partners is not justification for the nonprofit’s expenses." He also points out that the Foundation "has no written conflict of interest, whistleblower or document retention and destruction policies, and its compensation approval process did not include the use of comparability data or a review and approval by independent board members", increasing the risk or penalties from government agencies. The percentage of money spent on salaries and foundation expenses is much greater than is accepted in the non-profit world. Wilson's foundation says it had to pay higher levels of salary to get the best people but the numbers do not add up.
"Empower Change in the World, One Individual at a Time and One Child at a Time"
The phrase above is the mission statement of Russell Wilson's Why Not You Foundation. Now when I read it, I get sick to my stomach. I used to defend Russel to fans because of all the charitable work that I thought he was accomplishing with his foundation. Now I know he was just lining the pockets of his few friends with money at the expense of people and kids hurting everywhere. You can read the entire sickening investigation results by clicking here, I could not put all the disgusting details year after year into this article because there is just too much.