Guide Dogs Victoria delivered just 40 guide dogs last financial year – the same number as a decade ago – despite receiving over $21 million in revenue.
The group raised $11.3m from the public in donations and bequests and provided dogs worth $1.33m, its worst result on record.
Between 2011-12 and last financial year government funding to Guide Dogs Victoria surged more than four-fold, from $1.07m to $4.5m, its financial reports show.
The vast majority of that is new funding under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and is on top of over $10m in taxpayer funds the charity has received for redeveloping its Melbourne headquarters.
Value of dogs provided versus donations. Source: Guide Dogs Victoria data. Graphic: The Klaxon
The total services provided by the charity grew last year, to 28,349 “total client hours” – which includes both dog-related, and “non-dog related” services, such as training programs.
Yet this key performance measure was still slightly below the same period a decade earlier.
In the 2012 financial year it provided 28,897 hours of services.
In that time the charity’s total revenue ballooned from $11.98m to $21.51m in the 2021-22 financial year.
For the year to June 30 Guide Dogs Victoria’s wages bill was $9.8m, up from $6.37m in 2011-12.
The charity reports having 152 employees “including 41 new starters”.
Guide dogs delivered each year. (Note FY16 and FY17 are extrapolated as no data was published). Source: Guide Dogs Victoria. Graphic: The Klaxon
According to information filed with charities regulator the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC), Guide Dogs Victoria has 136 “full-time equivalent” staff.
It also reports having 446 volunteers last financial year, many of those members of the public who care for puppies before they are ready for training.
The charity came under the national spotlight in April after it emerged its then CEO Karen Hayes appeared in political advertisements spruiking then Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg for reelection.
It is illegal for charities to advocate for politicians or political parties.
After the scandal broke, Guide Dogs Victoria’s board announced an “internal investigation” into the Hayes affair – yet it has not disclosed its outcome and is refusing to do so.
The ACNC refused to comment when contacted by The Klaxon and has repeatedly refused to say whether Hayes’ conduct was against the law.
The charities regulator falsely suggested it was prevented by law from commenting on individual charities.
Government funding. Source: ACNC. Graphic: The Klaxon
Analysis of Guide Dogs Victoria’s accounts shows the total value of dogs it provided in 2021-22 was $1.33m, which was down on $1.99m the year before.
The charity provides annual reports on its website going back to 2011-12.
Last financial year the proportion of money spent providing guide dogs, compared to revenue raised in donations and bequests, was the lowest of any year going back to 2011-12.
Guide Dogs Victoria has faced a fierce public backlash over the Hayes affair, as well as over its systemic poor performance, which emerged following the scandal.
That backlash does not appear to have impacted its fundraising in 2021-2022, although the scandal only emerged two months before the end of the financial year.
Guide Dogs Victoria has said it is in the process of appointing a new CEO.
Total hours of services delivered. Source: Guide Dogs Victoria. Graphic: The Klaxon
Interim CEO Iain Edwards, and chair David Cochrane, have repeatedly refused to comment when asked about the Hayes scandal, including whether any laws were broken.
The charity has repeatedly publicly praised Hayes.
Guide Dogs Victoria continues to refuse to disclose how much its CEO was paid in recent years.
In the 2013-14 financial year CEO Hayes was paid a salary of $299,000, but since then the figure has remained a secret, with the group disclosing only a combined figure it names “key management personnel remuneration”.
Guide Dogs Victoria became more “corporatised” around 2015 and since then its financial reporting has become more opaque.
It now reports its annual financial information across three separate documents, as well as the information it provides to the ACNC.
As previously revealed, the charity was caught lying to donors about its poor performance in the wake of the Hayes Scandal.
In October Guide Dogs Victoria General Manager, Communications and Marketing, Charlie Spendlove and CFO Rachel Knight departed the charity.
Both women declined to comment.
Guide Dogs Victoria said they had departed voluntarily.
Spendlove started at Guide Dogs Victoria in May 2015 and Knight started in March of that year.
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