Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Where your money goes

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  • Amy Gale,

    And yes, it might well be cheaper for me to buy the raincoats myself and pop down to the school and hand them out, but seriously, how many people are going to do that? Surely one organisation to centralise it is better.

    I absolutely disagree. Compare it to a food bank. You can give food to food banks, or you can give money. They are pleased to get either, but they can buy more food per dollar than you can so you get more bang for your buck by giving them cash.

    If a food bank had less buying power than I had, I'd give them food instead. If they only wanted money and not food at all, I'd find someone else to give my money to.

    tha Ith • Since May 2007 • 452 posts Report Reply

  • Ant Timpson,

    I think a simple blunt Lonergan reply is all that is required here.

    The reason there is so much heat to this discussion is obvious. People want to know what percentage of monies raised the organisers are paying themselves. It's as simple as that. Everything else stems from this one point. I don't think one person here thinks the work being done is not worthwhile.

    Julie's refusal to tell Laws their wages ignited all this. And saying "none of your business" when you're a charity maybe wasn't the smartest move. A simple "I pay myself a wage of $175,000 to run KidsCan" might have been more acceptable. The only reason people would have an issue to complain is that if you only actually raise $350k cash, paying yourself 50% of that amount may seem a little much to some.

    When you're tugging on peoples emotions and wallets, I tend to think complete clarity and full transparency is rather important.

    AK • Since Mar 2008 • 12 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    When you're tugging on peoples emotions and wallets, I tend to think complete clarity and full transparency is rather important.

    EXACTLY

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 5988 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Julie's refusal to tell Laws their wages ignited all this. And saying "none of your business" when you're a charity maybe wasn't the smartest move.

    Certainly not -- though I would like someone to ask the triple-dipping Mayor of Wanganui how much Radio Live and the SST pay to distract him from the day job. But, of course, that's different. :)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11859 posts Report Reply

  • Tim McKenzie,

    Russell on RNZ this morning -
    streaming (9 mins) or MP3 (7.5 MB).

    Where's the ogg link? Richard Hulse would thank you for using it:

    I do hope that people use the Ogg files because apart from the freedom aspect, the quality is better than MP3 for the same data rate.

    Lower Hutt • Since Apr 2007 • 107 posts Report Reply

  • Brickley Paiste,

    Mothers Against Drunk Driving in Ontario got into all sorts of shit for living large.

    And, after September 11 2001, the Red Cross was forced to do an about face and promise that all the donations that resulted from the attacks would go victims.

    Since Mar 2009 • 163 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Russell, you inspired Moreu cartoonage.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6161 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Where's the ogg link?

    Tim, good point. I support Open Source alternatives in principle.

    Because of the way PAS handles links when composing posts, it takes some effort even to offer more than one link option for RNZ's stories. I think you'll find I am one of the few who does.

    It seems sensible to include streaming as an option rather than two download alternatives. I understand MP3 is a more widely supported format which is why I chose that over Ogg. I defer to Richard Hulse's judgement about quality matters.

    Unless I am missing something, the best answer seems for Richard to change the RNZ site's behaviour so there is a single link I can put here that allows visitors to subsequently choose which of the three current options they prefer - streaming, MP3 or Ogg. At present the main RNZ link for each article is to the streaming option, and I don't see any separate anchor to link to.

    If Mr Hulse tells us there is a better way already, then I'd be delighted to use it. I am grateful for the excellent work he has put into making his website one of the best examples in the world for accessibility (and of extracting oil from a rag).

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16470 posts Report Reply

  • Lara,

    Re: collecting ettiquette, I spent several hours last weekend collecting money for Amnesty International. I was a volunteer, as I believe all of those collecting in Chch were. We do get a bit of paper advising us on etiquette, but, as I hate being made to feel guilty by collectors, I just stood on my corner with my bucket silently except for thanking people who donated. Sure, I may raise less money, but at least I didn't try to make people feel guilty to get them to donate.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2009 • 74 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Moreu cartoonage

    Ouch.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16470 posts Report Reply

  • James Green,

    I just stood on my corner with my bucket silently

    Nice work. I always walk past collectors, and if I don't get accosted, I double back, and donate. Especially as these days it seems that the stickers really say 'Do not harass this person, we've already got their money'.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 683 posts Report Reply

  • Heather W.,

    KidsCan on paper financials looks better than Doug Howlett Foundation Charitable Trust. DHFCT in 2008 had donations of $28250 but payroll expenses of just under $40000 (two part-time). Plus the $2800 spent for websites to say

    This is the default page for doughowlett.com

    So my question for Mr Shera - you said were aiming at 80 percent donation within 2-3 years. How realistic is that given that biggest expenses relate to Events and Wages/Staff/Office costs?

    North Shore • Since Nov 2008 • 187 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    I give money to a guy thats often outside the New world supermarket in Newtown. He plays a saxophone he's made out of bits of bamboo.

    Since Nov 2006 • 2579 posts Report Reply

  • Elizabeth Sanderson,

    What I want to know is this. How come the Doug Howlett Foundation's registered address is the Kidscan's address? I also note that Julie and her husband are two of the 3 Board members. What I find most interesting of all is that the Foundation had 2 part time staff members earning a total $39,928.94. It would appear that these part time staff are in fact Julie and her husband. What gets me most of all is the sheer gall of the fact the in the same year the charity only raised $28,250 in income! Excuse me? Julie and her husband paid themselves a part time salary that was more than what was raised? Sounds to me like this is a legal - but entirely unethical - way for Julie and her husband to earn additional income over and above her Kidscan salary. Makes me also wonder what other 'personal income streams' is she getting?

    Auckalnd • Since Aug 2009 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • Elizabeth Sanderson,

    Plus - I note that the Doug Howlett Foundation paid $9,000 rent in 2008. Where was it paid to - the Kidscan charity? How can they justify this? Sounds like this Julie girl is a very smart, cunning person who has figured out how to 'milk the system' legally. Wonder what her last tax return showd she and her husband earned...

    Auckalnd • Since Aug 2009 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • Elizabeth Sanderson,

    Hi Dave, something else I think is strange.... It mentions a couple of grand in costs for a website. Thing is I haven't been able to FIND any website for the Doug Howlett Foundation.... ??? HUH?

    Auckalnd • Since Aug 2009 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    Either the expense is ... or my computer ain't working properly...

    Hang on a mo'. I think that's a bit presumptuous, unless of course you have authority? Charities are often business' acting on behalf of a charity. That is not to say the organisation is the needy lot. Whilst one may have difficulty fully understanding the way in which a charity operates, it does not mean they operate illegally or without need to staff the organisation running the business. Transparency is ideal but not all business' detail is on the balance sheet, and trusts are different again, so to assume will make an ass out of u and me so perhaps we give the likes of Rik Shera time to come back and help with the inquiries without hanging him high first eh?.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 5988 posts Report Reply

  • Elizabeth Sanderson,

    Ummm - I wasn't talking about Kids Can i was talking about the Doug Howlett Outreach Foundation, and the anomolies that are strange at best, and ??? at worst. It is beyond the pale that the Doug Howlett Foundation spent more on salaries than it earned in income (to Julie and Karl) and record a $42,000 loss for the year. By my reckoning, that is a 0% amount given to charitable purposes when you consider that these losses will have to absorbed by fundraising income raised in the following year - meaning even less for charitable purposes. Ask any charity in NZ (or any business in the world for that matter) - recording a loss twice what you earned, and paying out salaries higher than what you earned is not acceptable.

    Auckalnd • Since Aug 2009 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Elizabeth, you may raise your eyebrows and express an opinion, but PLEASE don't write anything that amounts to an allegation of a criminal offence, especially before Rick's response. I've edited one of your posts to that effect.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18693 posts Report Reply

  • Heather W.,

    Elizabeth,

    I didn't mean to imply any fraud in earlier post.

    The Charities register listing for the DHFC charity has the website as doughowlett.com. This along with doughowlett.co.nz do exist but just have a text message displayed. This means that someone has to be paying the hosting charges even though nothing to see yet. The people involved have been busy (email is to Carl) so costs could include for website development.

    Financials can be misleading because of timeframes and how things are recorded.

    North Shore • Since Nov 2008 • 187 posts Report Reply

  • Elizabeth Sanderson,

    Sorry :( It's just that as an Auckland business owner I have a great deal of trouble understanding how any charity can (DHFC) - justify higher outgoings than incomings, especially in light of the importance of returning a reasonable percentage to the cause it exists to support. In additional Kidscan's documentation refers to a policy of no debt, yet this appears to be the case with DHFC of which they are the Directors? I'm confused and am sure that like many other publicaddress followers, wait for clarification... PS: love your website - keep up the great work :) :)

    Auckalnd • Since Aug 2009 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • Dave Nicholas,

    I would love to hear answers that demonstrate that what looks odd and is difficult to understand is simple and above board. For that clarification we need the Rick et al to step up and deal with the questions. The lack of a prompt and detailed response and suggestions by the charity that it's all a bit more complex than we the public could understand is concerning. Especially so when these type of operations rely on a strong reputation to garner support and donations.

    Equally important is the broader issue. The charity under scrutiny is one of many thousands that operate without sufficient regulation and oversight. It's an opportunity for the unscrupulous to take advantage. We're seen the results of that in a number of sectors in recent years. No more.

    Since Nov 2006 • 12 posts Report Reply

  • kennethleong,

    Ultimately what would work best is transparency.
    As suggested in the blog entry key figures should be disclosed. eg
    • total income (donations etc)
    • operating expenses
    • disbursements to the charities/programmes marketed
    •ratio of above

    The only issue is it's not always clear-cut in terms of disbursements to the charities marketed. eg. the Blind Foundation may have a staff member who handles admin AND directly provides a service to the blind.

    In terms of fundraising for overseas activities, the charity here may send 90% of funds collected because they want to maximise the ratio of funds disbursed, but without effective auditing, the overseas counterpart may be squandering some of the cash. In some instances a lower ratio of funds disbursed works out to be more effective as additional checks/audits would minimise risk.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2009 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Hi all,

    I've been in contact with Rick, and he won't be able to file his post responding to your questions until next week.

    I'm okay with this: he's a volunteer independent chairman and he's been fronting the issue all over the place. He has urgent legal work to do.

    So you may continue the discussion, but, as I noted above, please keep it reasonable and non-defamatory.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18693 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    but, as I noted above, please keep it reasonable and non-defamatory.

    Might wanna check original post I quoted Russ. 'Tis just above mine :)

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 5988 posts Report Reply

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