Globe & Mail

For 30 cents day you can help this poor hungry child live another day…or so the commercial goes.

A statement by one of the country’s top Charities, Plan International.  Doesn’t it make you wonder why the overweight pitchman in the commercials with a dying hungry kid doesn’t feed the kid himself?  Or reach into his own pocket for some money? The CEO of Plan International makes about $350,000+ per year plus bonuses. What are the bonuses for, more schmucks like you and me donating to feed the hungry kid (in his house)?

The Globe and Mail’s article http://bit.ly/b8T18A gave the Canada Revenue Service’s stats for the 2009 tax year for the top Canadian Charities. Some of the biggest charities going are paying astronomical salaries to the men (and women) at the top in an effort as some say ‘to keep the job viable and competitive’. Baloney, there are many major charities, SUCCESS (where I work) http://bit.ly/bsj17w being one of them where commitment to service trumps the big pay checks of the Heart and Stroke people, the big hospital foundations and yes even the Salvation Army. SUCCESS helps over 800,000 people per year on a $30M budget and I dare say the CEO is very underpaid if you compare him to that list.

I did a few tweets this morning about the high paying jobs at these Canadian charities and was amazed at the hundreds of tweets I received. Initially, 70% of the tweets to me were negative calling me sensationalist, National Enquirer -type journalism, biased reporting, you name it but it changed later in the day. People started to respond favorably to my tweets and the tide changed to 70% the other way.

People want the places they give their hard earned money to spend it judiciously, wisely and have a low administrative component.

Curiously, people pointed out that they “didn’t really want to hear that kind of information that CEO’s were overpaid” – that came from a negative tweeter.  Some people pointed out that there are reputable, hard working charities that work for low pay, do exceptional work and have great results. Of course there are.

No one has criticized the top charities for not doing exceptional work, running great campaigns and having good results (although where’s the cure for cancer?) but the thought of paying over $300,000 plus bonuses is abhorrent and wrong in my books. Those who criticize me say “we need to pay for market value talent”. Another Tweeter, Shirley, said, “Like elected officials; we want SMART, but @ low pay. Being CEO of a charity is one of the hardest jobs; how do we attract the BEST?” My comment is with execs getting that kind of money, why find a cure to heart disease, cancer or poverty – they’ll go out of business!

This brings me to the Sea Shepherd Society; you know those guys who risk their life and limb to protect the environment and whales. Their mandate, “We aim to put ourselves out of Business”. Can anyone be more honest than that? (see www.seashepherd.org )

One of the things that is abundantly clear is that the top charities don’t want it to get out that they are paying such huge monies to their CEO’s (and don’t forget the many other senior executives on the payroll). There’s something immoral about asking donors for money to help the needy when the donors are unknowingly supporting expense account charging executives.

On the other hand one tweeter told me that if more “people knew about for profits like Acumen (The Acumen Fund) that enables growth in the third world with a low return, more would give to them” http://bit.ly/9QGdMF

On the Acumen site it says “Poor people seek dignity, not dependence. Traditional charity often meets immediate needs but too often fails to enable people to solve their own problems over the long term. Market-based approaches have the potential to grow when charitable dollars run out, and they must be a part of the solution to the big problem of poverty.”

There are thousands of charities who give people independence rather than create dependence on hand outs.

Anyway, this has given me an eye opener. Even the Haiti disaster left me upset that I couldn’t trust anywhere to send my money. My wife has canceled her United Way contribution s from her payroll deductions. She wants her money to go somewhere that money is spent responsibly. She thinks big business is a little too close to United Way. We’ll be looking at our clothing going to other sources like the Downtown East Side (Vancouver) in the future so we know it’s not being used to pump up salaries at the Salvation Army HQ. I think I’ll check out Sea Shepherd personally and maybe some human rights places…or maybe the Bizzo Old Phartz Retirement Fund and Rest Home.

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199 Comments

  1. Whoa ! That is one Good Article ! Many thanks Very Much, That i just Saved your site, Expect that you will come up with far more things like that.

  2. Hey i love your blog, found it while randomly surfing a couple days ago, will keep checking up please do visit mine if you wish :). Btw yesterday i was having troubles opening the site. Cya…

  3. Excellent read, I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing a little research on charities. And he actually bought me lunch because I found it for him smile So let me rephrase that: Thanks for lunch!

  4. This is like my third time coming by your site. Regularly I do not make comments on, but I have to mention that this article really pushed me to do so. Really awesome article!

  5. Saw your Blog bookmarked on Reddit.I really enjoyed your fact based, hard attack to these guys, I’ve canceled my contributions to Plan Canada and Cancer society, let them prove themselves to have low admin costs!

  6. This is so upsetting! I’ve stopped payment on my charitiable contributions, if they take that much money they deserve nothing!

  7. The most comprehensive and very well thought out write up I have found on this subject on the net. Keep on writing, I will keep on coming by to read your new content. This is my fourth time coming by your blog.

  8. Excellent read, I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing research on that. And he actually bought me lunch because I found it for him smile So let me rephrase that: Thanks for letting the stuff out of the bag

  9. Hello people, excellent website, Thank you very much for that info I really enjoy it!! Appreciated it, i thought this was such an awesome post. We have just bookmarked your web blog. and also I directed the url to a friend.

  10. You certainly deserve a round of applause for this post especially and more specifically, your blog in general. Very high quality material!

  11. Damn it!
    Sweet post, many thanks. I’ve been intending on submitting a post along these lines for awhile, do you mind if I quote you? I will link back to you of course.

  12. This has to stop, I’ve stopped all my contributions to national charities and will focus on local ones. Very well written post, do you have an rss feed I can subscribe to?

  13. I can’t beleive these charities, now they have a lobby group and a website fighting the C-470 bill? Is this big business or what?

  14. Thanks. It’s really impressive. I’ve already added this blog to my favorites. Are you looking for help to get people moving on this initiative?

  15. I am so happy to read this. This is the kind of info that needs to be given and not the random misinformation that is at the other blogs. Appreciate your sharing this beneficial content.

  16. You made some very good points there. I researched this topic and found out that a good number of people will agree with your weblog. Respectfully, Sherilyn.

  17. Interesting article, and the website seems nice all-around also, I been to a few pages before commenting, I usually don’t comment unless I find there is something worth-it on the site. Great site, and thank you for the quality.

  18. I just became aware of your blog and desired to say I have really enjoyed reading your opinions. Any way I’ll be subscribing in your feed and Lets hope you post again soon.

  19. I think charities and even societies like the Cancer Society need to go back to the basics and realize why they are there in the first place

  20. I work for a community charitable organization and I know there are organizarions out there that operate like a big corporation, most of us don’t – you must believe me

  21. Thank you for another great article. Where else could anyone get that kind of information in such a perfect way of writing?

  22. You have me very upset sicne I live in the USA and figure if yo uguys up there are having this kind of problem ours must be multiplied significantly

  23. Terrific work! This is the type of information that should be shared around the web. Shame on the search engines for not positioning this post higher!

  24. I am so happy to read this. This is the kind of info that needs to be given and not the random misinformation that is at the other blogs. Appreciate your sharing this – keep on it

  25. Great wordpress blog here.. It’s hard to find quality writing like yours these days who go after the corporate (read charity execs) bs that is going on. I really appreciate people like you! take care and see you soon

  26. Substantially, I’d wished I hadn’t read your blog, it opened my eyes and gave me another reason to think less of humanity – but i do appreciate it, thanks

  27. You have passion and you seem to speak to me, thats what i like about this blog.No people leaving stupid comments or having bullshit discussions.its just a good blog and this topic is so relevant, thank you. keep it up

  28. Very useful. I like the way you write. Do you provide an RSS feed? – “If I were in this business only for the business, I wouldn’t be in this business”.- Samuel Goldwyn

  29. I think most charity CEO’s deserve the salaries but I’d like to know what the ratio of expenses to actual money to the clients of hte charity, how can we find out that info?

  30. I agree with some of your stuff, think the biggest problem is transparency of these big charities, they want my money show me your admin costs

  31. Hey you make good points, I hate the fact you can’t find out how much they pay for staff etc and how much goes to the problem the charity was created to suppport

  32. I do agree with all the ideas you have presented in your post. They are very convincing and frankly upsetting. I’ll send an email to the MP you suggested in your Tweet

  33. Hi, i can write similar posts to your site, if you are interested, please let me know. I am passionate about this charity stuff too and live in Toronto. let me know

  34. I always visit your blog and retrieve everything you post here but I never commented but today when I saw this post, I couldn’t stop myself from commenting here. Fantastic article mate!

  35. I’m not sure where you are getting your info, but good topic.I needs to spend some time learning more about charities

  36. Do you people have a facebook fan page? I looked for one on twitter but could not discover one, I would really like to become a fan! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this abomination

  37. Those commercials showing the starving kid in Africa really bug me ,why don’t they for Christ sake feed him and say guys like him, now that I know it takes thousands of people like me ith my donations just to pay for his salary

  38. Fern here, I think they should live a day in the shoes of the people they are supposedly helping, then maybe $500,000 salaries might seem excessive, thanks for opening my eyes

  39. seems ot me if the charity is bring ing in millions becasue of the CEO he should be paid well but drivign Bentleys and showing off is not right

  40. I don’t have a lot disposable income but I give to local charities I know because of the mistrust for the big ones like you mention in your blog, thanks for your efforts

  41. Jeez man. thanks for sharing this information, I had no idea they were making that kind of money but the benefits make me feel sick

  42. Quite simply, it is immoral NOT to pay people what they are worth. Why should workers be under-paid just because a charity is a nonprofit organization? To do so is exploitation. Conversely, nonprofit organizations should NOT overpay employees. The real issue is: What is the value proposition? If an employee delivers high-value, he or she should be paid more than one who delivers low-value. Dan Palotta from Harvard wrote an excellent piece on the subject of nonprofit executive compensation: http://blogs.hbr.org/pallotta/2010/01/aspirational-compensation.html. If we want nonprofit organizations to be successful, we have to be willing to pay sufficiently to attract talented employees. As a past and present board member of several nonprofit organizations, I’ve never had a problem paying staff what they are worth. (http://mlinnovations.com/books)

    1. good comment Michael, one of the major criticisms is the lack of transparency, if you are going to pay those salaries and feel comfortable about it be honest about it so people have the choice to donate or not, because right or wrong, people peopel want a high ratio of money going to the source of the charity vs. the admin

  43. I agree 100% with the last Admin comment. Organizations should be completely transparent in all respects, particularly when paying high salaries to executives. Because donors want a high percentage of their donations to go toward mission fulfillment rather than administrative overhead, organizations that pay high salaries had better be darn certain that those getting those high salaries are earning them by delivering high value. If that is the case, then paying high salaries won’t necessarily throw the percentages out of whack. For example, the Philadelphia Orchestra is hoping that paying Yannick Nézet-Séguin, our new Music Director Designate, a small fortune will help turn around what has been a decade-long artistic and financial decline. Based on his conducting so far this season, the Canadian conductor is a real crowd pleaser. The American willingness to pay fair-market salaries may help explain why we have so many world-class symphony orchestras while Canada has…well…some great hockey teams. 🙂 If Nézet-Séguin enhances the quality of the Philadelphia Orchestra, the organization will be able to attract larger audiences and more donors/sponsors. The salary he is commanding will then be justified. If he doesn’t perform well, then he’ll be viewed as being overpaid and won’t be around long.

    1. hi Michael, Gary here, Unlike the US, in Canada it is not transparent. I agree with what you say, if you hire a CEO in hopes he/she will generate lots of money, pay them well, but let’s assume the admin costs will be less than the amount of money going to the actual charity. Some in Canada pay 90% to the admin costs and 10% goes to the purpose for which they are intended.

  44. Thank you for the sensible critique. Me and my neighbor were just preparing to do some research about this. We sought info on the web but I think I learned more from this post. I am very glad to see such great information being shared freely out there.

  45. I donate a good portion of my salary to those charities and am very careful with my money. Thanks for being sincere and there when we need help, Gary.

  46. Interesting thoughts here. I appreciate you taking the time to share them with us all. It’s people like you that make my day 🙂

  47. I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this post. This has been an inspiration for me. I’ve passed this on to a friend of mine. thanxxx

  48. I can’t agree with the above post, and would like to highlight a few of the OP’s points. Not everyone will see it this way and though I am one of them, I do respect your right to have your view. Either way I have enjoyed reading
    Gary C. Bizzo $300k Salaries the Norm at Top Canadian Charities :.

  49. I really like your blog and i really appreciate the excellent quality content you are posting here . This inof on the charities is particularly well done

  50. I’ve wanted to advise you, u r right on. I located your post from another search and am really fascinated by the charity misappropriation thing. Do you mind if I refer to this info from my ?

  51. I’m incensed this makes my blood boil, followed you at the House of Commons committee by audio only Gary, great job

  52. Its all very astonishing. I am always searching for good info on this topic. It can be difficult to locate sometimes. Thanks!. I will check back on your site from time to time to see what else you have to offer.

  53. Simply want to say your article is as tonishing. The clearness in your post is simply spectacular and i can assume you are an expert on this subject. Thanks a million and please keep up the gratifying work.

  54. You can definitely see your enthusiasm in the work you write. The world hopes for more passionate writers like you who aren?¯t afraid to say how they believe. Always go after your heart.

  55. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading.

  56. Spot on with this write-up, I really suppose this web site wants far more consideration. I’ll probably be once more to read far more, thanks for that info.

  57. I would like to see a complete list of charities and a breakdown of their overhead. I agree with you – it is wrong, wrong, wrong to give to charity and it is used to support some fat blob.

  58. Wonderful points altogether, you just gained a new reader. What would you recommend in regards to your post that you made some days ago? Any positive?

  59. I want to voice my admiration for your generosity supporting all those that must have help on this particular matter. Your special commitment to getting the message all through appeared to be certainly invaluable

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