Charity begins at home


An interesting report from CBC’s Marketplace reveals that some checkout donations aren’t quite as generous as they seem.

Indigo’s Love of Reading Foundation is one such charity.

The foundation, which is registered as a charity with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), gives about $1.5 million to Canadian schools each year in the form of grants to help libraries buy books.

But what may not be apparent to people who give money at the register: Selected schools receive grants in the form of credit, which they must spend at Indigo and other stores in the Indigo chain, which includes Chapters and Coles.

Schools in the program must pay full retail price for the books they purchase. They do not receive the materials at a discount or at cost.

“It’s not as charitable as it seems on the face of it,” says Greg Thomson, director of research for Charity Intelligence, which analyzes the charitable sector. “It’s not a very efficient way for people to give books to schools.”

“If they were discounting the books [for schools]by 25 per cent, say, that would make it a charitable offering instead of casting a shadow on Indigo for not being as charitable as they could be,” he says.

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