Charitable status of Winnipeg Christian group revoked

An evangelical group based in Winnipeg has lost its charitable status after an audit revealed that its director misused donated funds in order to benefit himself and his family.

According to the story filed by CBC News, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) found that Harold Reeve, director of the evangelical group Gospel Outreach, spent more than $76,000 in 2009 toward personal expenses – more than half of the $124,000 the charity spent in total in 2009.

The CRA document attached to the CBC story made note of Reeve’s illegitimate use of the charity’s money, which included: two trips to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic; a ski trip to Montana; payment of property taxes on his family cottage; uncharitable distribution of grocery store gift cards; and the illicit use of four vehicles and one boat under the charity’s name.

Reeve was unavailable for comment, but wrote in a letter to the CRA that,

What I have done and do is for the charitable benefit of others. I used the organization to pay for the expenses as I deemed them to be part of the service of the organization.

Gospel Outreach board member Paul Jenkins told CBC that poor bookkeeping may be to blame for many of the discrepancies. The boat, for example, was apparently used at a Bible camp in Manitoba, and Reeve’s trips to the Dominican Republic were taken in an effort to preach the gospel to the poor.

Jenkins said, “I trust Harold and I feel that he’s been judged wrongly. As far as I know, the money that was given went to people in need or it went to furthering the gospel.”

Gospel Outreach, which claims to send children to Bible camps and help people in need, can still operate as a charity, but it can no longer issue tax receipts for those wishing to claim them as deductions because it has lost its charitable status.