Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Lawmakers question why charities can’t be all volunteers and work out of someone’s kitchen like Aunt Thelma’s church women’s group

Canada’s largest charities went before the country’s top lawmakers yesterday to ask for more help from government. But Members of Parliament instead asked them why they can’t be more like their Aunt Thelma, who runs a successful church women’s charity out of her kitchen with no paid staff, office space or anything.

“We need more help from government with some of our infrastructure challenges – more IT, better HR, improved education and help attracting and retaining volunteers,” Jason Snidely, the Chair of the National League of Big Charities told the House Commons Committee for Finance, Banking, Securities, Mortgages, Nuclear Safety, Equal Opportunity and Charities in Ottawa. “These are issues that all 165,000 non-profits in Canada face and government can play a pivotal role in coordinating the effort to solve them.”

However, the members of the Conservative-dominated committee were uninterested in the League’s presentation or their six month research project with 10 other charity umbrella groups to analyze the sector’s long-term needs. They wanted to know why charities have any paid staff at all.

“I understand that some leaders of Canada’s top charities are actually paid a salary and that it involves money. This is the kind of abuse of Canadian donors and taxpayers that we were all afraid of,” said MP Dibble Brewer once the presentation was over.

“Until today, I thought all charities were run by volunteers. I’m shocked to find out that some of charity people are actually demanding to be have an income. And not just any income, but one that actually employs them, in some extreme cases, full-time,” added MP Turner Creamer. “No wonder the charity sector is in so much trouble. It’s unacceptable.”

In her questioning, MP Georgina Smollet presented a report based on tax data that found that the charity sector employs “like more than a hundred people or something” across Canada and that some of their salaries were even more than minimum wage. “I had no idea that this abuse of the public trust was going on. We need to get to the bottom of it.”

Committee Chair MP Vegen Sprout demand to know from the assembled charities why they couldn’t be more like Aunt Thelma, who’s North Simcoe United Church Women’s Club run a successful charity out of her kitchen.

“Aunt Thelma isn’t paid one red cent and yet all of you CEOs and President’s sitting here make as much as say a server at a fast food restaurant. How come you need a salary and she doesn’t? You both run a charity. You both do whatever a charity leader does. There’s no difference, except that perhaps you are more greedy than Aunt Thelma, and she bakes wonderful cookies,” Sprout said.

Aunt Thelma’s charity raised $1,400 last year. She is reported to be one of the nicest older ladies the MPs have ever known and has done many innovative fundraising things such as hold 50-50 draws and raffled off baked goods, such as her famous date squares.

League Chair Snidely told the Committee that charities are in fact a multi-billion dollar sector in Canada and are run as businesses, complete with paid staff, a payroll, and even benefits. However, MPs question whether than was true.

“I have at least three charities in my riding in Southern Ontario,” said MP Brewer. “And as far as I know none of them have any paid staff or offices. One’s a shelter for women or something. One helps with sick people. And one raises money for research for some kind of really bad disease that I can’t remember. I don’t know what they do for employment, but I’m sure they aren’t paid by these charities. Perhaps they sell insurance or something.”

MP Smollet wanted to know if donors were aware that these charities were actually paying their staff. “I’m sure most donors have no idea that you big charities actually use their money to pay for things like offices with chairs and desks and stuff like a real business. If they were, they wouldn’t give you anything. They’d give it all to Aunt Thelma,” she said. “She just uses her kitchen table.”

“I thought you guys were the non-profit sector. And here you are coming to us asking for help and telling us that you actually are acting like businesses,” said MP Ferly Swanson. “Don’t you guys get it? It’s NON-Profit. It’s right in the name for Heaven’s sake. Geez.”

Liberal and NDP members of the committee were more understanding in their questions, asking the top charities why they couldn’t just pass a collection plate during community events or have a charity dunk tank instead of paying salaries to their leaders.

“I’m sure if you ask your leaders to just volunteer their time that would save you a lot of money so you could spend it on whatever charities in fact spend things on…like bingo supplies or whatever,” said MP Yodle Nurwiner.

Calling the League of Big Charity’s case confusing and contradictory, Committee Chair Sprout called on them to return in a year with more details.

“You say you pay your CEOs, but at the same time we know that Aunt Thelma isn’t paid. You say you have offices, but we know Aunt Thelma doesn’t have one. She makes sandwiches with the crusts cut off and you don’t. How can we trust anything you say when it is so incorrect? We know more about the charity sector than you do!” she said.

The League told reporters after the meeting that it plans to hire Aunt Thelma as a lobbyist.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

UN agency says Iran developing nuclear Donor Wall

Can Iran create a nuclear donor wall?
A United Nations watchdog agency says Iran has likely developed a nuclear-power donor wall.

In a new report, the International Atomic Recognition Agency (IARA) said it had enough evidence to conclude that Iran had at least one, maybe two nuclear donor recognition walls. The findings were  released at the Agency’s Geneva headquarters yesterday.

“We have been watching the donor recognition program in Iran for several years now. Recently, all of our evidence has been pointing to one thing – the development of nuclear powered donor recognition walls,” concluded Dr. Gerful Snidely, head of the IARA.

In announcing the findings, the IARA let journalists see key evidence first hand. This included satellite photos of large, shiny rectangular-shaped structures being moved from a truck into a building. In a close-up, the name “Zerfeeze Paydar, President’s level donor” could be clearly seen on one name plaque on the structure. Other evidence included a translated invitation from the Iranian government to their “Nuclear Giving Circle” and blueprints for a “recognition system” installation for a key government building. Perhaps the most damning evidence came from donor recognition suppliers in Canada and the US.

“US authorities intercepted an illegal shipment of donor recognition wall parts to Iran last month in New York. It included several wooden panels and more than one thousand blank name plaques,” said Snidley. “It was enough material to make an entire donor wall, maybe two or three.”

Seven people were arrested in the sting operation, including one man with dual Iranian-US citizenship who used to work at the development arm of a major Ivey League university.

Also intercepted was a defective name plaque that was sent back to a US supplier. FBI tests found it was slightly radioactive. The radioactive signature matched that of an atomic donor wall system sold by the US military to Iran just before the fall of the Shah in 1980. In previous years, US government officials had said the donor wall would be impossible to use without up-to-date parts and continued servicing. They predicted there would be “gaps” in several of the giving categories, especially among top donors, unless new plaques could be made. Snidely says it appears that Iran has developed its own ability to use the donor wall and maintain it.

“They have obviously figured out by themselves how to add new names to the donor wall with nuclear power,” said Snidely.

The IARA says Iran is in violation of the International Treaty on the Proliferation of Nuclear-Powered Donor Recognition Systems, which was signed by most major countries in 1985. The treaty bans countries from developing donor wall systems if they are “bad countries” or run by “bad people”. The IARA is now calling for economic sanctions.

The Iranian delegate to the IARA, Dr. Zoomi Ostovar, issued a statement saying that the report was incorrect and that Iran only wanted to develop nuclear-powered donor walls for “Peaceful purposes”. Journalists who received the note noticed it glowed in the dark when all the lights were turned off in the news room.

The reaction by world powers to the IARA report has been mixed. The White House promised more economic sanctions. China and Russia, who have both sold donor recognition systems to Iran in the recent past, were calling for more international discussion. The Israeli government had little to say, but Israeli media have been speculating that the Mossad spy agency was working on a plan to attack the donor wall by removing the screws holding the large sections to the wall.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Local charities download all the crap they are doing back to government

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Saying they were “tired of this shit”, the nation’s charities have announced that they have decided to download all the community services they deliver back to local, regional and national governments.

“For years, we’ve been carrying the ball for government. We did all the hard work and came up with all the good ideas and they just kept underfunding us. We’ve had it,” said Ferrel Snidely, President of the National Charities League. “And when they told us recently that they were going to download even more crap on us, we decided to download on them first. We’re finished with them.”

The charities plan to turn over all the community services they do across the country to government starting next Tuesday. This includes health, human services, education and anti-poverty services, work to save animals and the environment and more. In all, more than 20,734 programs will be handed back to government. Most of them have been operated by charities with some sort of government funding for years.

“We’re sorry it had to come to this,” said Turner Hu, the CEO of the Council of Mental Health Charities. “But they’ve been messing with us for years. Now, we’re messing with them. It’s that simple.”
The last straw, say insiders, was when the government started to talk about a UK-style “Big Society” agenda that would “give more power to local community agencies”.

“When we heard that we realized they were going to screw us big-time,” said Snidely. “At the same time they were talking about giving us all this power they we’re telling us we’d have to do more with less.”

Snidely says the leaders of the National Charities League simply had had enough. So, they requested a meeting with government and told them the nation’s charities would be downloading all their services back.

“The government guys were all smirking and giggling when they told us about their new imposed arrangement. But when we told them we were downloading everything back on them they were mortified. It was worth it just to see the look on their faces.”

People who use charity-delivered services are being asked to call their local government offices next week and ask for information on how to access the downloaded services they need. Snidely says he’s not very confident that the government will be able to do as good a job as League members do.

“They’re idiots. God alone knows how they will screw this up, too.”

Government leaders are at an emergency meeting trying to figure out the next steps. Reports in the media say the government is considering “double downloading” back on charities, but worry that charities will, again, download right back at them.

Another alternative being considered is to download every community service program in the country on Grace Vorhees, 72, a retired school teacher who lives alone in Metro’s Sunnyside Retirement Center and who was said to be a “tireless go-getter”.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Department of Homeland Fundraising says it has raised at least $357.12 after two weeks of massive trillion dollar campaign to prevent US default

The fundraising campaign to save the US government from default says it has raised a record $357.12 after two weeks.

The Department of Homeland Fundraising’s “Give or Else” campaign, the largest fundraising campaign on Earth, has a goal of raising $1 Trillion  by the end of the year. Department Secretary Dibble Snidely says they have been thrilled with the kind of success they have been getting.

“I’m really excited by the work we have done to date. We’ve increased our total raised by nearly 20 times. That’s quite an achievement,” she said.

When the campaign started in late October it had collected $17.95. That leaves just $999,999,999,642.88 that the Department must collect before December 31st, or roughly $15 million every second between now and December 31st.

“I especially want to thank the NRA Ladies Club of Paso, Texas for making a $300.00 donation last week. That was really great. We couldn’t actually read the letter that it came with because at 200 pages of handwriting it just took too long,” said Snidely.

The Department’s more than 5,000 major gift officers have been knocking on doors across the country and even overseas for two weeks. More than 200 million direct mail pieces were also sent out. The President even called the heads of foreign governments directly and asked them to make a personal donation.

“Only the Greek prime minister said he would give, but then he lost his job and said he couldn’t pay,” said Snidely.

The President issued a statement from the White House thanking the 13 donors who have made gifts so far and called on all Americans to do the same.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

New Board Governance structure would work if only members would show up once in a while and stop demanding more sweets when they do for crying out loud…

Good news!
Metro’s largest charity has become only the third non-profit organization

in the world to adopt a new international standard for board governance. The new framework would make the Snidely Community Foundation of Hope one of the most advanced charity board of directors on Earth if it wasn’t for the fact that many of the board members never show up for meetings and those that do keep on asking for date squares instead of healthy snacks.

“The ISO298761571 Standard for non-profit board governance is the new international standard. We’re only the third Board in the whole planet to adopt it,” said Executive Director Densel Commintz. “Now, if only some of our board members would actually show up instead of making the same lame ass excuses they usually do.”

“At least some do call in and say they aren’t coming,” Cummintz continued. “Two of them just never show up. Like, never. One of them came one time, and it was like I didn’t even recognize him.”

The ISO298761571 standard includes a series of measures that call for better reporting throughout an organization. The standard includes more open board meetings and accountability. Under the new framework, board members take a more active role in setting the strategic direction for the organization and act as a second set of eyes for management to help guide future action.

“We have set a new standard for what it means to be a volunteer board member. From now on, people will turn to the Snidely Community Foundation of Hope to find out what it means to be a truly open, honest and forthright organization,” said Cummintz. “But if Leslie or Jim bring up their concerns that there aren’t enough date squares at the food table during board meetings ever again I think I will blow a gasket.”

The Foundation of Hope implemented the new standard last month when it held an open house for all stakeholders to come and talk about what governance means. It was followed by a series of workshops led by the Swiss governance experts who developed the ISO standard in Geneva only last year. More than 150 people attended the sessions. A further 300 sent in written comments online. A summary document and video were also produced and distributed.

Cummintz called the implementation of the new standard was “transformative”.

“Everyone in our organization has been consulted and they are all behind these changes. Never before has there been such consensus, such an agreement, such a harmony,” Cummintz said. “I just hope that at the next board meeting we don’t have to hear Leslie talk on and on about the problems with her kids and the sex problems she’s having with her husband. That’s just yech. It makes me dirty thinking about it. Ugh.”

The Foundation of Hope will be sharing the new model with other local charities at a governance summit next month at Metro Hall. Cummintz said she hopes other charities will also embrace the new standard.

“I hate the board. I just hate them. Things would be soooo much better if we just got rid of them all in some kind of freakish farming accident or something,” Cummintz said.

Next month’s board meeting of the Foundation of Hope will include a tour of local agricultural plants and a meat-packing plant. Everyone is invited.