It’s just as challenging to give away your money as it is to earn it.

Madonna 2  by David Shankbone

It’s hard enough to find music managers you can trust. Once you’re earning enough money from music to think about helping others, you’ve got to find managers from other disciplines who can carry out your mission without embarrassing you in the details.

That’s the frustration Madonna’s dealing with right now, having sacked the management team from her Raising Malawi charity. Madonna expressed interest in building a school for girls in a part of Africa where two-thirds of women lack secondary education. The initial grant for the project was enough for local managers to draw up blueprints and buy land, but fell short of actually building any facilities. After further review, accountants, auditors, and local activists realized that the management team was still able to afford new cars, luxurious office space, and a golf course membership.

Director Phillipe van den Bossche left the organization in October amid accusations of improper use of funds. Now, news reports indicate that Madonna and her manager will lead an interim oversight team until new, local directors can be found.

Even if you’re not the kind of artist who’s puling in enough revenue to support a $4 million charity campaign, you should still think about the personal and financial benefits of setting up a foundation, a trust, or at least a donation program. Just make sure you’re as authentic in your giving strategy as you are with other parts of your music career.

Most often, I see Christian artists facing some of the hardest ethical challenges related to giving. If you collect a love offering from a church gig, how much should you return to your host church? I’ve watched some artists divide that stack in half, some “tithe,” and some head out of town before the money’s even counted. Are you deducting expenses for clothes and shoes from your non-profit ministry because you intend to wear them at a church fundraiser, or are you just trying to hide income from the IRS?

Tell me about some of your own challenges in the comments.