|Not what it seems.|
I’ve kept an eye on finances of the CKNW Orphans’ Fund. My attention began after the Corus radio station dropped its long time policy – under Griffiths family ownership – of paying overhead costs of the charity. They were entitled to make the change; they weren’t entitled to remain silent about it. After my first report, CKNW stopped making the claim that it paid all administrative costs for the charity but others, including Pledge Day guests, made it for them on air, without correction.
I was told by a couple of insiders that junior NW staff were surprised by the extent of charges levied against the Orphans Fund when they were being asked to donate time for events. Overheads have cost the charity about $2.5 million since the policy shift.
The numbers shown below are drawn from annual reports to Canada Revenue Agency. Details filed are scant but they certainly leave me with questions. For example, why did advertising expense rise from $803 for 2010 and 2011 to $656,763 for 2012 and 2013? Does the Orphans’ Fund now pay CKNW for air time on Pledge Day or other times? What other payments flow into the accounts of CKNW, Corus Entertainment or associates? What is the nature of $743,706 in professional & consulting fees? Why not make public reports of how the charity spends its money each year? CKNW Orphans’ Fund website identifies only six organizations that received funding in 2013 and 2014 amounting to a total of $133,000. That identifies 4% of charitable payments for the two years.
Clearly, the CKNW Orphans’ Fund has a significant lack of transparency and is accountable only to a small self-perpetuating board that votes for its own replacement.
I forwarded an email to the charity,
“Financial reports to CRA show advertising expense in 2012 and 2013 amounts to $656,762. That leads me to ask if that or a part is paid to CKNW for advertising and/or air time on CKNW Pledge Day?
“If in fact, the Orphans’ Fund pays to sponsor Pledge Day, in whole or in part, is that revealed on air, as would seem to be required under the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards, which prohibits disguised advertising?”
I will soon be posting another story about the clouding of merged corporate and charitable interests. This will examine finances of the Vancouver Sun Fun Run. The newspaper does not hold it out specifically as a charitable operation but they certainly imply that to be an important element. A tipster told me that registration and sponsorship revenues are over $1.5 million and The Sun advises readers that from registration fees,
“$50,000 is donated annually to The Vancouver Sun Raise-a-Reader campaign and $80,000 is given in support of BC’s amateur athletes via the Achilles Track Society and The Vancouver Sun International Jerome Track Classic.”
The following information is drawn from CKNW Orphans’ Fund annual reports to CRA: