HUMBOLDT — After donating $2.4 million and giving $1.1 million to support the families of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash in 2019, the HumboldtStrong Community Foundation is planning to wind down and become a charity.
“The HumboldtStrong Community Foundation has been a good vehicle to provide short- and medium-term response to the April 6 tragedy,” said Darrin Duell, the president of the foundation, as he read his report at a June 25 annual general meeting.
“However, the community foundation has limitations that, in the directors’ view, make the foundation unsuitable as a long-term vehicle to sustain HumboldtStrong initiatives.”
Duell said the foundation as it is currently structured cannot provide taxable receipts to donors, deal with resource costs to process potential limitless claims submitted by individuals, meet the challenge of establishing structure around the types of claims the foundation would accept going forward, and handle emotionally charged claimants.
“The board of directors believes it is in the best interest of the foundation and its member to dissolve the foundation on or before the fiscal year end of Dec. 31 in order to transition to the HumboldtStrong Charitable Foundation,” he said.
The foundation legally has only one member, the Humboldt Broncos Junior A Hockey Club. At the meeting, the club voted in favour of the transition.
According to an audited statement, in its first fiscal year, from April 13 to Dec. 31, 2018, the foundation received $4.1 million in donations and around $9,000 in interest.
To support the families, it spent $246,000 to supplement lost income, $109,000 for funeral costs, $70,000 on home renovations, $19,000 on domicile, $18,000 on travel and around $7,000 in therapeutic costs. In administrative expenses the foundation paid $33,000.
In an unaudited statement that covered Jan. 1 to June 25, the foundation received $230,000 in donations and $8,000 in interest.
Expenses for that time period included $2.4 million in donations from the foundation, which included gifts to the communities of Humboldt, Melfort, Nipawin, Tisdale and Zenon Park, STARS air ambulance, and OSI-CAN peer support services for emergency services; $1.1 million in family support; $300,000 in scholarships; and $47,000 in administrative expenses.
At a meeting in February, the foundation's board voted provide a lump sum amount to support the long-term needs of the injured players.
“The amount of $900,000 was to be distributed amongst specific families,” Duell said.
The foundation has allocated $320,000 for scholarships, which will be disbursed when certain criteria are met. The criteria were not given at the meeting.
As of June 25, the foundation has slightly more than $47,000 in net assets.
The foundation said in its annual report it was not obligated to conduct its first audit or annual general meeting until 18 months after its date of incorporation.
“The board of directors recognizes there is intense interest from the public to know how donated dollars being used,” the report read. “As part of the foundation's commitment to transparency, the decision was made to conduct an audit and hold a public annual general meeting well in advance of the required timeline.”
The foundation board declined to answer questions from audience members and the media present at the meeting.