Yesterday marked the beginning of season 23 of The Bachelor on ABC— a TV show that I am told I invest in to an embarrassing degree, and yet, somehow, feel no embarrassment over. Colton Underwood, who first appeared on Becca K.’s season of The Bachelorette, is our new lead, meeting and dating 30 different women, one of whom he’ll supposedly propose to on the season finale.
Colton was, at least among my Bachelor-centered group chat, a controversial pick. He’s a former NFL player with an extremely polite disposition, and a dog named Sniper, who I can only assume is a golden retriever (I could be wrong; this is based off vibe alone). Even on a show where literally everybody is required to be conventionally beautiful, he’s notably handsome. He dated Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman for a year, had some type of relationship with Tia from Arie’s season of The Bachelor before he was officially accepted to the show and, and made it to Becca’s final four. His “thing” in the Bachelor-world is that he’s a virgin at 26, which is, you know, actually nobody’s business. He also started a nonprofit for Cystic Fibrosis (CF), after his younger cousin was diagnosed with the disorder– the Colton Underwood Legacy Foundation.
I guess the thing that rubs people (me) the wrong way about Colton is that his persona comes off a little over-polished, like an alien who has taken intensive training on how to be likable, but lacks some degree of authenticity. I’m sure if I met him in real life, I’d think he’s a great guy– this is purely based on how he’s appeared in a highly edited show. Maybe my opinion will change as the season continues, or as I personally mature and stop viewing “too pleasant” as a negative.
A Little About the Colton Underwood Legacy Foundation
There’s also some suspicion that he’s fame-seeking, which, let’s be honest, everyone in the franchise could be called, but for whatever reason, it comes off as more unsettling and calculated. The fact that the majority of his girlfriends (literally three out of five) have been famous and that he’s been central to three seasons of a reality TV show in the last year and a half raises some eyebrows. His CF foundation isn’t named after his cousin but… himself? That feels pretty self-congratulatory but maybe it’s normal? I guess it helps wrangle in his football/Bachelor fans, but anyway, I don’t love it.
Fortunately, I don’t have to love it. These are largely petty concerns, because that is, after all, what reality TV is about– but at the end of the day, the more important thing is that there are real people with Cystic Fibrosis who are struggling to get the treatment they need.
While there’s a lot to say about The Bachelor franchise, if it’s putting a spotlight on CF, if it’s raising awareness and helping patients get better treatment, that’s a good thing. If Colton is helping that happen, that’s admirable and important too– and until I’ve started a foundation that’s raised and donated $100,000 in cash and equipment to patients in need, I really just have to withhold judgment.
I will, however, say this: if watching Colton on The Bachelor has inspired you to donate to Cystic Fibrosis causes, I genuinely mean it when I say that that’s awesome. You should do it. But mayyyybe consider donating to another organization. The CULF’s 990 is available on Guide Star, and honestly, it’s not the best of the best. To be transparent, I formed my opinion from info I found in well-sourced Reddit threads, which you can check out here and here, but here are some of the general points:
In 2016 CULF raised $78,002 in revenue (subtract $42,211 in expenses and you end up with $35,791). You can read the Reddit users fancy calculations, but they worked out that the labor of the board members brought in $6.88 per hour. Considering that Illinois’s minimum wage is actually significantly higher than that, the board members’ time might be better spent just working basically any other job and donating what they make. The foundation is probably doing better now that Colton is actually famous, although the flip side of that is that it’s weirder that he named it after himself when he was basically just a regular guy. One of the best things CULF has done is raised $60,000 for Cystic Fibrosis… which they in turn donated to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. So basically, when you donate to CULF, you might have ultimately donated to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation anyway, but with a bit deducted because it went through another group first. The same Reddit users have pointed out other somewhat disappointing aspects of CULF, related to gala tickets and children’s camps, but I won’t go into all of them right now.
With that said, CULF has been up to new projects in recent years. Colton flies to visit kids in the hospital and hand-deliver the equipment, which is sweet, although maybe not the use that I’d personally want my donation to go to. He’s putting a rare disease on the screen in houses across the country, and that’s wonderful too. Perhaps if he hadn’t attached his name to his work, it wouldn’t have reached as many people in his fan base. It’s hard to quantify this, and I don’t want to diminish the importance of his foundation too much.
I’ll just say: donating to Colton Underwood Legacy Foundation is a good thing, but maybe donating to a more efficient organization could be a more effective thing. Charity Navigator is a good tool to help evaluate how a nonprofit is using the money they raise. CULF isn’t rated, which means their foundation’s financial information isn’t on file. This doesn’t mean that their financial information is necessarily negative, but that it’s harder to assess whether they’re a group you want to donate to.
Looking for more CF organizations? Here’s a few to get you started: