A statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus at the entrance of St. Paul's Hospital in Saskatoon. Photo from St. Paul's Hospital/Youtube

Catholic hospital returns $25,000 donation from racy "Boys Lunch Out" fundraiser

  • December 14, 2017
Charities are always in need of fundraising, so to refuse a donation is never an easy decision.

A Saskatoon Catholic hospital recently drew attention after its foundation returned a $25,000 donation from a lingerie fundraiser, declaring that the event did not align with its Catholic values.

St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation CEO Bruce Acton released a statement Dec. 5 stating “gifts must not compromise the foundation’s integrity, nor be derived from any activity that runs counter to the mission and core values of the foundation or hospital.”

The donation came from a local chapter of the Canadian Progress Club, a non-profit corporation that aims to bring together “charitable-minded Canadians.”

The Saskatoon chapter organized its 36th annual “Boys Lunch Out” event on Dec. 1. According to the CBC, the event featured scantily-clad women gyrating down a catwalk as waitresses served the male attendees free drinks and food. VIP donors were promised “one-on-one” time with some of the models.

About 20 charities were listed as beneficiaries of the event, including St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation and St. Michael’s Community School, which the Saskatoon chapter names as a sponsor school. The Catholic elementary school has not made an announcement regarding its donation.

All charities, whether they are based on Catholic values or not, must do their due diligence when accepting donations, said Quentin Schesnuik, manager of planned giving and personal gifts at the Development Office of the Archdiocese of Toronto.

It is safer, he adds, for a charity to err on the side of caution and decline a donation received under questionable means than risk the integrity and values a charity organization stands for.

“From my experience, charities normally err on the side of caution because they don’t want things like this happening,” said Schesnuik. “It hurts the charity and the charity frankly doesn’t want to hurt its charitable status and embarrass their donors or other people, just to receive one donation.”
The Development office recently had to return a series of donations.

An elderly woman believed to have “severe mental deterioration” made numerous donations to several parishes and charities through the online donation system on the archdiocese website. The woman’s guardian asked the Development Office if the funds could be returned.

“We looked at (the request) and obviously as an act of mercy, we wanted to,” said Schesnuik. “And it’s not as easy as you think. We had to go to legal counsel, as well, to ask them what conditions we have to have in place to return the donation.”

If the Canada Revenue Agency does not deem a returned donation to be acceptable, it can lead to the charity’s registered status being revoked.
“That’s why charities take returning gifts seriously,” said Schesnuik. “It’s not because they don’t want to, but CRA says they can’t.”

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