Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Another corporate charity misleads

Galen Weston speaking for President's Choice Children's Charity states in TV commercials running currently:
"Please, make a donation at pc.ca/charity. 100% of it goes to helping children"
We're supposed to assume the billionaire Weston family behind President's Choice, Loblaws, Real Canadian Superstore, Holt Renfrew, Selfridges, and other brands have their business picking up overhead costs of the children's charity.

Except that reports filed with Canada Revenue Agency (charity info often not available during night, try during daytime) tell a different story. In the four years 2008 to 2011, President's Choice Children's Charity paid $1.1 million for management and administration and $2.2 million in fundraising costs.

In plain language, 100% does not go to the children.
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  1. The link is broken. Can you quote from the report, please?

  2. Does PC own CKNW? They have a similar story with their Orphan's Fund.

  3. I was being facetious with my comment above. NW is owned by Corus, which is a branch of the Shaw family's holdings. It is publicly traded, though, so Galen could have some shares.

    After reading this story, I wrote to President's Choice, advising them that they should change their advertising statements — and asking for a response. I sent a link to your story, Norm.


    Ah, I just got an automated response, "... we will respond to your e-mail as soon as possible."

    I'll report back, if there's anything interesting.

  4. Corporate altruism is a self serving advertising scheme.

    Thanks for the work that you do Norman. Merry Christmas!

  5. I'm a glass half-empty kind of person, so I assume skimming, nepotism and deceptive advertising are rife within the "charity" industry.

    Years ago, I was a close friend of a woman who worked in the head office of one of the local "one percent" charities, the kind that runs a yearly lottery for disabled children. I did some minor volunteer work for them with my friend and so got curious about their actual workings, so I asked her how many kids they actually helped. I was shocked when she told me that she only saw a maximum of four kids a month come in. (They were located in very expensive office space that would have cost a minimum of $10,000 a month, plus all the other overhead.)

    Since I have no faith in any government agency's ability to ensure a charity will actually do what it tells its donors it intends to with their money, I suggest that anyone considering donating find a way to either speak with a client independently of staff or someone that understands the inner workings of the charity itself. Please don't waste your money on a corrupt organization.

    1. Good comment. I've said here before that my cynical view of charities was formed by experience doing audit or accounting work at charitable organizations. Investigate before you donate. Hospital lotteries are examples where huge sums go to fundraising costs and overheads, paid to people not involved in the charities. Some lotteries cost so much they lose money for the charities.

      Find direct ways to put your money to work. CUSO volunteers like Jody Paterson and Paul Willcocks offer one example. A Closer Look

  6. This could be a job for CBC's Marketplace.

  7. Sally Ann is about it for me these days

  8. Corporate altruism is an oxymoron.....

  9. Does a company that collects $2 at a time at their tills across the country get a tax deduction when they make the big donation? That would a terrific scam for them, getting Joe Average to reduce their corporate taxes.

    1. President's Choice Charities shows a substantial amount of income for which no tax receipts are issued. Those amounts probably originate from small donations like the ones referred to here.

  10. Is it possible that they get a tax credit from the non-receipted loonies and toonies... and use this credit to pay for the admin fees?

    Here's PC's answer to my question. It states that Loblaws fully funds the admin fees:

    "Dear Mr. Stewart,

    President's Choice® Children's Charity is dedicated to helping children who are physically or developmentally challenged. Our aim is to remove some of the obstacles that make everyday living difficult and to provide these young people with a renewed sense of dignity, independence and freedom. We provide grants to families to assist with the costs of equipment, home accessibility, respite care, developmental and physical therapy and accessible vehicles.
    The costs of President's Choice® Children's Charity administration and operations is fully funded by Loblaw Companies Limited ensuring that 100 per cent of every dollar donated goes directly to helping kids. Since 1989, PC Children's Charity has granted more than $46 million to more than 6,500 families, thanks to the generosity of our customers and colleagues, as well as funds provided by Loblaw Companies. ,For more information on the PC Children’s Charity, we invite you to visit us online at http://presidentschoice.ca/LCLOnline/aboutUsCharity.jsp


    Carole Léonard
    Représentante principale du service à la clientèle | Les compagnies Loblaw Limitée
    Senior Customer Service Representative | Loblaw Companies Limited
    400 avenue Sainte-Croix | Saint-Laurent | Québec | H4N 3L4
    T: 800-361-1168 # 3172 | F: (514) 383.3063 | cleonar@provigo.ca"

    1. Except that the annual T3010 Registered Charity Information Returns filed with CRA show the PRESIDENT'S CHOICE CHILDREN'S CHARITY/LA FONDATION POUR LES ENFANTS LE CHOIX DU PRESIDENT is paying salaries and other costs of operation.

  11. First off: Happy New Year, Norm! I only got involved in BC political blogging during the recent teachers' strike — and it really has changed my life, mostly in a good way. Thanks very much for your efforts on all the files you research.

    As you say in your bio, you have much experience in accounting. Not so with me... so I just have questions that I hope you can answer. CKNW/ Corus has stopped covering the expenses of running their Orphan's fund and are now dipping into the donations to cover the admin costs. They no longer claim the "100% goes to the children"... though they don't mind it if their supporters keep believing that.

    PC' s situation is different, though, as you point out. When "rounding-up" donations are made at the till, no tax receipt is given, so at the end of the year, I'm sure they would have $millions of unreceipted income. Corus doesn't have this same opportunity (unless they have donation kettles like the Salvation Army); everything would be receipted, so the actual donors would get the tax write-off.

    There's tax-avoidance value in that loose change... so it is probable that PC/Loblaws passes the donations to PC Children's Charity and realizes a tax refund? They could then use that refund to pay for the admin? Of course... they could POCKET the tax write-off and still get the charity to cover their own admin costs. If they do, though, they cannot rightly claim that 100% of the donations go to the children.

    I sense that the point you are making is: why does the charity appear to paying the admin fees, rather than PC/Loblaws? Is there no line where it says, "Admin costs are X-dollars... and here's the PC/Loblaws payment to cover those fees."?

  12. Loblaws lays off all almost all of their IT departments employees ( some very close to retirement ), most of them working for more than 25 years and replaced them with random foreign workers brought by consultancy companies, saving money in 2 ways - by not paying well deserved pensions and by writing off the consultancy as expense. So I imagine that PC charity purpose is not very "charitable" , considering that everything Weston family is involved in should generate more profit that will help them buy more and more Canadian retailers and real estates , not only Shoppers Drug Mart for only 12 billions ...



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