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Eugene Melnyk’s Charity Under Fire

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Questions emerge about The Organ Project and the Future of the Sens Foundation

2017 Scotiabank NHL100 Classic - Centennial Fan Arena Photo Minas Panagiotakis/NHLI via Getty Images

Rick Gibbons published a bombshell piece this morning, revealing what appear to be some untoward happenings at Eugene Melynk’s (currently shuttered) Organ Project Charity. In their press release last week announcing their split with the Sens Foundation, the Ottawa Senators organization explained that they would like to have more control over the money the foundation raised — including a focus on organ donation causes. During a subsequent interview with Bruce Garrioch, the Sens’ President of Business Operation Anthony Leblanc said that they: “ [...] wanted to ensure that the foundation is optimized as possible which also result in sending out as much funding to the community as possible.” This latest bit of news would seem to throw the nobility of those goals into doubt.

The most damning bits of information from Gibbons’ piece are sourced from publicly available information: the CRA. It’s not like the Sens Foundation has never given to Melnyk’s private charity, either. Back in 2018, they wrote a cheque for $100k, and offered up another $15k in sponsorship. So perhaps Melnyk has a very good explanation for what is going on here, but it will be hard to explain this away (forgive the long block quote):

According to Canada Revenue Agency filings, the Organ Donation Project generated $991,708 in revenues in 2018, primarily thanks to a big charity gala it staged in Toronto. No doubt, that $100,000 Senators Foundation cheque helped.

So what happened to all that money? Again, according to CRA filings, The Organ Project invested barely $5,000 of the nearly $1 million it raised on organ donor awareness. For those without a calculator, that’s 0.49 per cent, or less than half a cent for every dollar raised. And yet the Sens Foundation is being attacked for investing about 50 cents on every dollar it raises on programs. The hypocrisy is stunning.

So, where did all The Organ Project money go if not to worthy causes? According to CRA, a whopping $779,464 went to cover fundraising costs. Another $238,118 went to management and administration.

According to Gibbons’ article, Melnyk and the Sens’ Foundation are poised for an acrimonious battle before the July 31st deadline. More on this story as it becomes available.