Charities and business

Published on December 4, 2013

On Nov. 20, CBC News reported: “Authentic painting shows up in thrift store donation bin … Painting appraised between $7K to $15K at auction.”

The report went on, “A spokesperson for Value Village said the Lyman painting is not the only big ticket item they’ve seen. … Since nobody has come forward regarding the painting, the company plans to auction it off and donate some of the money to its non-profit partner, the Canadian Diabetes Association.”

A couple of years ago, our family was downsizing, with a variety of furniture and household goods to donate.

I could choose between our local non-profit thrift shops or Value Village. Curious as to what percentage of a Value Village sale goes to the Canadian Diabetes Association, I phoned Value Village and the Canadian Diabetes Association here and in Toronto.

Their replies: “not public information.”

This week, in response to Value Village’s public declaration that it will auction the donated painting, I went to the Value Village website and read:

“Who  owns Value Village? Are you publicly traded? What is your stock symbol?

“We are a privately held company with two primary owners, Tom Ellison, the son of our founder, and a private equity firms Leonard Green & Partners, L.P. (“LGP”) and TPG.

“What percentage of your profits are paid to the nonprofit organizations?

“We do not pay our partners based on our profits, so their income is predictable and not dependent on our sales revenue. We contract with each of our nonprofit partners individually, purchasing goods from them in bulk at an agreed upon rate. The details of those contracts are confidential, but when we negotiate our rates, we assure that the rate we pay them is higher than what they would get selling the goods on the open market or to other resellers. The funds that we pay our nonprofit partners are an unrestricted and reliable source of funding for their local community programs.”

I wonder if the individual who donated the John Lyman oil painting, as well as all other donors, realize that Value Village, a privately held company, contracts with the Canadian Diabetes Association to provide them with a confidential amount not tied to the company’s profits.

I note also that the shopper pays a sales tax at Value Village.

I ask if  the Canadian Diabetes Association would profit more from arranging to “partner” with a provincial non-profit thrift shop.

Penny Allderdice

St. John’s