The article following this update was published Nov. 25, 2011 (the first chart is revised with 2012 figures). In 2012, I reviewed the most recent Registered Charity Information Return filed by the CKNW Orphans’ Fund and my arguments of a year ago stand. In fact, the administrative burden placed on the CKNW charity has grown worse as demonstrated by these charts.
Corus Radio is not any more pretending that it pays all of the administrative costs of the CKNW Orphans’ Fund. It used to make that claim as demonstrated in this quote from a businesswoman who is also a director of the charity:
New Westminster The Record, December 20, 2006
” ‘I am very pleased,’ said Susan Cartwright-Coates. ‘It shows all that chipping away, year after year, can make a difference.’
Cartwright-Coates said there’s a good reason why the business donates proceeds from the Canned Critters to the CKNW Orphans Fund.
” ‘Every cent goes to the children,’ she said. “There is no administration costs.”
However, CKNW has not gone out of its way to be honest with donors. Its current promotion is less than forthright, failing to disclose the growing administrative burden faced by the charity:
Added: A 5-year recap of financial reports to CRA: 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010
In early December, Corus Radio holds its annual pledge day, raising money for the CKNW Orphans’ Fund, a charity started when Bill Rea founded the station in 1944. A Northern Insights reader suggested I look at how financial management of the Orphans’ Fund had altered in recent years, changes made with little notice to the public.
Through the years, CKNW provided administration for the charity without cost, proudly declaring that every dollar donated to the Orphans’ Fund enhanced the lives of children. Others in the community helped because of the policy while the radio station gained only from goodwill generated in the community. Here is one example, another and another from a home products dealer who advertises:
“Nineteen years ago we started a tradition of making a charitable donation to the CKNW Orphan’s Fund. We chose this charity because CKNW absorbs the administration costs, so 100% of the funds donated go to help those in need.”
The Corus policy quietly ended a few years ago and the Orphans’ Fund now pays overhead, much of it directly to NW, of more than $200,000 a year, according to annual T3010 information returns available from CRA.
The change derives, I think, from attitudes in boardrooms of today’s large corporations. The Vancouver radio station charity is small by itself but worth exploring as an example of modern business guided only by a desire to maximize profit. This attitude is an outgrowth of callous neo-liberalism, encouraged by Fraser Institute hero Milton Friedman who wrote that businessmen paying attention to social responsibilities such as eliminating discrimination or avoiding pollution are preaching “pure and unadulterated socialism.”
Shirley Stocker, who managed the Orphan’s Fund until her retirement, provided information in response to my inquiries. While the charity is membership based, it is not open to just anyone. Nor does it publish annual reports or make financial statements available to outsiders. According to Ms. Stocker,
“Members are admitted on the invitation of the President of the Society and the consent of not less than three firths (sic) of the members.”
How the charity spends its funds and who it invites to join is not public information. That does not suggest improprieties; Ms. Stocker has been highly respected in Vancouver throughout her broadcasting career. However, I think Corus should not be the least bit proud of withdrawing its administrative support. Over $1-million has been diverted from children’s programs, an unhappy situation in this province where child poverty, already the worst in Canada, continues to grow.
Corus Entertainment’s aggrandizing press releases do not disclose the company is now pocketing money that used to go to the charity bearing the station’s name. In fact, their promotional material would lead you to think the opposite.
By the way, when Corus stopped providing free administration to the CKNW Orphans’ Fund, its annual revenues were $667-million. In fiscal 2011, during supposedly tough economic times, revenues had grown to $825-million, with income before taxes of $203-million, which is a thousand times the extra burden placed on the Orphans Fund. Good for the billionaire Shaw family, not so good for needy children.