Government saps non profit initiative

The Community Development Fund giveth. And, apparently, the fund also taketh away. The fund promised the Whitehorse Curling Club $19,700 for its…

The Community Development Fund giveth.

And, apparently, the fund also taketh away.

The fund promised the Whitehorse Curling Club $19,700 for its 2006 National Mixed Championships in November.

Four months later, the fund still owes the curling club $1,970. And it is asking for an additional $7,830.75 back.

This totals $9,800.75 — the exact amount of the curling club’s surplus, after its championships.

“Nowhere in the application form, or in the contribution agreement does it state that, should an event be successful in raising funds to help its society’s future, nowhere does it say that the development fund will ask for that money back,” said past general manager of the curling club Derek Charlton.

“If you look at their press release, it actually says CDF is committing $19,700 to the National Mixed — and then they didn’t.”

The curling club spent thousands more than the $17,730 it received from CDF, he said.

The development fund outlined a number of items that were eligible project costs when it offered the curling club funding.

It agreed to help pay for advertising, an ice technician, the ceremonies, the closing banquet and sponsorship signage.

The club budgeted $42,519 to stage the national championship, far more than the $19,700 promised in CDF funding.

By the time it was over, the club actually spent $52,709 on the event. It covered the cost through fundraising and private-sector investment.

Nevertheless, the development fund is still demanding money back.

“When (the curling club) made the application, they weren’t totally aware of all the expenses and revenue that would go towards that project,” said development fund manager Doug Kearns.

“So we agreed to provide a certain level of funding.

“But it’s a conditional application — it’s not an unconditional grant.”

And, at the end of the day, the club had more revenues than it anticipated, he said.

“We had advanced beyond what they needed, so we’re asking for that money back.

“If we didn’t, every application we’d get would be for $10,000 extra, so, at the end of the day, they’d have a surplus — if they only need $10,000 to pull off a project, why should we give them $15,000?”

However, the curling club argues it spent all its CDF funding, and was also counting on the final 10 per cent the development fund held back.

“The money the development fund is asking for is actually money we raised from other sources,” said Charlton.

There are two different types of funding, he said.

“CDF can fund a community to go build a swimming pool, and if the swimming pool comes under budget, of course, you give the money back, because it’s all applicable to the project.

“But our projects are events — they’re different than some construction project, like whether or not you put windows in a building.

“There’s only one aspect to putting windows in a building; you get one quote on what the cost of the windows will be and CDF will commit 50 per cent of it, or whatever.

“It’s very cut and dried.”

But events like the mixed curling championship are staged by NGOs, he said.

“And with such events, there’s always volunteers running around getting more sponsorship on different aspects of the event, especially an event over 10 days.”

There are all kinds of aspects to that event that may or may not be CDF applicable, he said.

For the mixed championships, the curling club raised far more than the CDF provided.

In fact, it raised $3.50 in fundraising and private sector funding, for every dollar contributed by CDF.

But CDF wants the curling club’s total surplus returned, even though the development fund only supplied 22 per cent of the total monies raised.

“The position the development fund is taking is quite shocking,” said Charlton.

“They’re actually punishing the curling club for doing better than expected with the National Mixed Championships.”

“I would hope every organization that puts on an event tries to do it as well as they can,” said Kearns.

“We offer groups the sufficient amount of money to carry out their project.

“And if they get more revenue from somewhere else, or the volunteers get $10,000 worth of revenue out of their beer garden, why should public funds go to some kind of surplus for a non-profit organization?”

When other non-profits in the territory heard about the curling club’s quandary, and CDF’s stance, alarm bells sounded.

“My concern is with the blanket statement that non-profit organizations shouldn’t be making a profit,” said jazz society president Scott Wilson.

“There’s a big difference between profit and surplus.

“With non-profits, the money doesn’t go into anyone’s pocket; with the jazz society our surplus money goes right back into the next season.”

The curling club also had plans for its surplus.

The club planned to host a World Curling Tour event in Whitehorse in November.

“But if we have to give the money back, then it’s up in the air,” said Charlton.

Two big sponsors, Nuway Crushing Ltd. and Skookum Asphalt Ltd. had already come onboard, he said.

But this was under the impression that the curling club would be contributing its $9,000 surplus.

After hearing of the conflict, Liberal leader Arthur Mitchell wrote the CDF asking where, in its literature, it states that surplus funds must be returned, said Charleton.

Economic development minister Jim Kenyon responded, but didn’t really answer the question.

“The organization is, no doubt, proud of its accomplishment,” he wrote.

“However, by allowing the surplus funds to be used by the Whitehorse Curling Club to fund other events, CDF would, in effect, be bypassing the normal review process, which is in place to ensure all applicants are given fair and thorough consideration.”

“I’m angry,” said Charlton.

“I was in charge of marketing and sponsorship, and to be honest, it’s personal.

“I didn’t negotiate all those sponsorship deals for the future of the club, for CDF to take it and put it into government coffers, to then produce a $780-million-dollar budget.

“Our $9,000 is peanuts, compared to the $780 million, apparently, they’re going to drop.”