SASKATOON - Questions about the ethics of fundraising were raised recently in Saskatoon when it was revealed that two Catholic organizations — St. Paul's Hospital and a Catholic elementary school — were among the community groups receiving funding from a men's organization that held a fundraiser Dec. 1 featuring women in G-strings dancing on raised walkways.
A number of community groups and local leaders expressed surprise and concern about the nature of the Boys Lunch Out annual charity fundraising event hosted by the Progress Club, while others said the event was misrepresented by media.
In response to comments in the media suggesting that Catholic organizations need not scrutinize fundraising methods, Bishop Mark Hagemoen of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon addressed the issue with leaders of Catholic health and Catholic education in the community, and released a clarifying statement.
The statement released Dec. 5 by the diocese reiterates its “long-standing position that all fundraising activities to benefit Catholic organizations must respect the dignity of the human person and must not exploit human beings in any way.”
The bishop noted that for Catholic organizations, fundraising involves both an opportunity and a responsibility to demonstrate Catholic faith and values.
“Respect for the human person is a foundational guiding principal for Catholic institutions that provides insight and direction for all of our ministry activities, including the efforts to financially support such activities,” said Hagemoen.
St. Paul's Hospital Foundation ultimately decided not to accept a $25,000 donation from the Progress Club event. According to a statement from Chris Boychuck, SPH Foundation chair: “We will also be looking to ensure that our gift acceptance process completely aligns with our policy' which states that '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.'”
A spokesperson from Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools said school division leaders are in agreement with the bishop's position on fundraising, and are now evaluating their relationship with the Progress Club. School officials are arranging a meeting with the club to express concerns directly before taking any action.