Minister orders inquiry into charity auction group

NSW Better Regulation Minister Kevin Anderson has ordered an inquiry into a company that uses charity auctions to sell its own ­holidays.

The Daily Telegraph revealed on Monday that the Helping Hand Group was auctioning holidays owned by its sister company Goodwill Getaways, with only a fraction of the proceeds going to charity.

Mr Anderson said: "We want to ensure the public can have confidence when making contributions for charity, which is why I have asked NSW Fair Trading to make inquiries in relation to the concerns that have been raised."

Goodwill Getaways Queenstown Gum Lane weekend getaway.
Goodwill Getaways Queenstown Gum Lane weekend getaway.

 

The Charitable Fundraising Act says a trader "must not conduct a fundraising appeal in connection with the supply of goods or services" from a business that they run for their own benefit.

Helping Hand holiday stays are not the company's product but the product of Goodwill Getaways, which is owned by two of the directors of Helping Hand Group.

Better Regulation Minister Kevin Andrews. Picture: Gary Ramage
Better Regulation Minister Kevin Andrews. Picture: Gary Ramage

Helping Hand Group put a three-night holiday in New Zealand for six people under the hammer at a Commando Welfare Trust dinner two weeks ago and fell $300 short of the reserve price. Helping Hand Group staff went to the highest bidder and asked her to up her offer, which she did.

On Monday the Trust confirmed it got just $100 from the $2300 paid. An almost identical apartment in the same complex sells for just $400 to $450 a night online.

"They have never disclosed to us that they own the holiday company," Commando Welfare Trust executive officer Steve Pilmore said.

A spokesman for Helping Hand Group said: "In the future we will consider asking charities to disclose in their brochures which of our auction items we have donated free of charge and which we have provided on a standard consignment basis.

"Maybe it is something all companies providing these services should consider noting to charities."

Goodwill Getaways and Helping Hand Group co-owner Oliver Slobodetsky put a statement on the holiday company website saying how "deeply disappointed" they were by Monday's story in The Telegraph­.

Goodwill Getaways and Helping Hand Group co-owner Oliver Slobodetsky. Picture: LinkedIn
Goodwill Getaways and Helping Hand Group co-owner Oliver Slobodetsky. Picture: LinkedIn

He strongly denied that "we have excessively profited from exploiting charities and their donors".

It pointed out a $7000 Tuscany Villa holiday, of which $500 went to the charity, came with chef prepared meals on top of the rental.