Last week we learned that the Ottawa Senators Foundation was severing ties with the Ottawa Senators after their board published a statement effectively confirmed that their relationship with the Senators organization was untenable. It was a shocking turn of events to be sure but nothing could have prepared me for the revelations that were made in today's Ottawa Sun by report Rick Gibbons.
Gibbons went into extensive detail regarding the split between the two organizations but unquestionably the most disturbing details he published today once again focus on much maligned Senators owner Eugene Melnyk. Now I know that there are many, myself included, who give Melnyk a very hard time for how he has run that organization but even the most die hard critic of Melnyk would never have dared accuse him of some of the things revealed in this article. First let us begin with what Gibbons to be the real source of the dispute between the two organizations, the allocation of the charity's spending. According to Gibbons Melnyk wanted a greater focus on organizations that support organ donation, something I can frankly understand given that Melnyk himself is alive today due to a life saving organ transplant in 2015.
The real issue isn’t costs. It’s about control of the foundation’s operations, including where it dispenses the cash.
The foundation hasn’t entirely ignored Melnyk’s appeal to flow at least some cash into organ donation awareness. In 2018, against its better judgment, perhaps, it donated $100,000, plus an additional $15,000 in sponsorships, to The Organ Project (TOP), a Toronto-based private charitable foundation set up by Melnyk in 2016 to manage his pet project — creating greater awareness about organ donations and waiting lists.
Now while that may all seem well and good on the surface, although the fact that Melnyk is funneling charity money to an organization he operates is certainly an eyebrow raiser, things get much much darker when you go into the details. Gibbons reports that the The Organ Project raised just shy of a million dollars in 2018, $991,708 to be exact, but I'm sure you can already see where this one is going. Gibbons also dug up information on how that money was allocated, and to say that this is disgraceful would be putting it far to mildly.
Again from Gibbons:
So what happened to all that money? Again, according to CRA filings, The Organ Project invested barely $5,000 of the nearly $1 million it raised on organ donor awareness. For those without a calculator, that’s 0.49 per cent, or less than half a cent for every dollar raised. And yet the Sens Foundation is being attacked for investing about 50 cents on every dollar it raises on programs. The hypocrisy is stunning.
The hypocrisy Gibbons refers to stems from the fact that Senators president Anthony Leblanc recently suggested that the teams motivations for wanting more control over the charity was due to the fact that the team felt the Ottawa Senators Foundation should be donating more than 50 cents on every dollar. Given that the organization Melnyk wanted to give money to has come nowhere close to that mark, it is easy to see the naked hypocrisy at play. So where did the money actually go? Well according to Gibbons we are looking at $779,464 in "fundraising costs" and an additional $238,118 in "management administration."
Maybe the Ottawa Senators will have a perfectly good explanation for all of this, but I for one am palled at these revelations. Gibbons believes the tax man may now also be interested in taking a look at this, and hopefully that will be the case.