Diluted Thinking
in Australian healthcare

Does the AVN Profit Meryl Dorey?

AVN Pays Meryl Dorey

In early 2005 Meryl Dorey wrote a long letter to AVN subscribers about AVN finances, what the organisation needed to continue and pleading for more donations, saying she couldn't even buy her kids any veggies one day because she used the last of her money to pay an AVN bill. This letter was published in AVN's magazine supplement The Inside Edition (Vol 3.1, 2005) and was posted by Meryl Dorey to the AVN Yahoo! group on 19 March 2005.

Further along in the letter in section "My personal wish list" we see one of her wishes is to get paid (excerpt):

"I would like to get paid for my work. Yes, we are a charity and yes, I am a volunteer. But for my work for the magazine at least, it would be nice to finally get some payment. I know my husband would be happy. We have done without for a lot of years to help the AVN, it would be nice if we were in a position where they [sic] AVN could help us out a bit. I was thinking of a payment of $300 a week if we have the funds. I would like to know what the rest of our members think about that."

I can't find any mentions by Dorey whether or not this payment went ahead. What we can see in the AVN financial statements for 2007 & 2008 are the following expense items:

  • 2007: Editing Fees $15,840.00
  • 2008: Editors Charges $17,490
If my fancy calculator is correct, Dorey's weekly payment in 2007 was $304.61 What an amazing coincidence. I'm somewhat bemused by the payrise she gave herself in 2008, given the AVN only published three out of four magazines that year.

We don't know when these payments to Meryl Dorey commenced because 1) she won't tell anyone, and 2) no other financial statements itemised this entry. We do know payments to Dorey continued until January 2013 when the AVN announced in a Jan 2013 e-newsletter that Living Wisdom magazine was ceasing production and "Meryl Dorey is no longer drawing a payment as Editor of Living Wisdom magazine".

We also don't know how much Meryl Dorey was paying herself after 2008 but bear in mind the AVN failed to publish 13 magazines subscribers had paid for between January 2010 and December 2012. Based on previous experience I suspect she gave herself more payrises. And be aware that the AVN posted a $32,925 total LOSS for the years 2011 and 2012 (incidently, that loss amounts to $316.58 per week). I doubt Dorey will ever divulge what she got paid by this supposedly volunteer-run, charitable organisation.

NOTE: As far as I'm aware, Dorey has never received a wage from the AVN. These payments might be considered compensation for services rendered and therefore not necessarily outside the rules and regulations for associations and charities. What smells off about these payments is Dorey refusing to divulge to her members how much money she's been paid. As a charitable organisation (at the time) these sort of payments should not be hidden. The payments Dorey received for 2010, 2011 and 2012 are the most important. That three year period saw only 5 magazines published, so one would expect a corresponding decrease in payments to the magazine editor. If there was no decrease, then the pretence of Dorey being compensated as editor is over and opens a big can of worms for the AVN.

Dorey House Extension

March 2005. Meryl Dorey and the AVN launch a Bankruptcy Appeal, advising members and supporters that if the organisation doesn't urgently receive $20,000 in donations to allow the AVN to continue (and $50,000 to be stable) she'll be contacting the necessary authorities on Monday to discuss putting the AVN into bankruptcy and folding the organisation. She goes on to say that if no one gives money then next week she'll be closing the email list down, disconnecting the phones and stopping production of the next issue of Informed Choice magazine (which was already at the printers, she adds).
Please note: this appeared in the same edition of The Inside Edition where she asked to be paid. Yes, really.

July 2005. The Inside Edition (Vol 3.2) section "The AVN wish list", Dorey writes (excerpt):

"Perhaps the amazing response to our bankruptcy appeal has made us bold? Perhaps it's just time to let you all know about a few things that are needed to help this organisation run better and more smoothly."
"1. We are squished! The AVN runs out of Meryl Dorey's home and, whilst the basement is a good size, it is now completely jam-packed. There are 4 people who work there on a regular bases (Meryl, Greta, Judy and Sarita) and one person who comes in every 2 to 3 weeks (Mina who usually works from her home on the Gold Coast). We have been renting a shipping container for the last couple of years to handle the overlfow of paperwork and books, but even with that extra space, we barely have room to breathe. If you are a draftsman or architect and would be willing to help us out with drawing up plans for a bargain basement price, please let us know. If you are a builder in the North Coast of NSW or Southern QLD who would also like to put in a bid on this project, we would love to hear from you."

That must have been one hell of a fundraising drive. Dorey explained back in February that the AVN required $50,000 just "to get to the point where we are not always borrowing from Peter to pay Paul." And now the AVN can afford to go ahead with a house extension. Or maybe Dorey is simply confident (bold!) she'll be able to raise the funds from AVN members and supporters for anything she wants from now on.

October 2005. The Inside Edition (Vol 3.3) Dorey writes:

Back in March 2005, we were within 24 hours of declaring bankruptcy and closing our doors for good.

All of you, our wonderful members, came through and saved our organisation so we could continue our vital work.

And in the section entitled "The AVN wish list" we get an update on the house extension:
Plans are now being drawn up for an extension to Meryl's home which houses the head office of the AVN.

Thanks to some volunteer drafting/architect work, ground should be broken early in 2006. This will give us more room to operate and hopefully allow us all to breathe and move without falling over each other!

We are still looking for a builder who would like to do some lower-cost work for this project. In addition, we will need a items such as a sink, toilet, kitchen cupboards, a bar fridge/small fridge and perhaps some second-hand windows/timber as wel. A small kitchen table and some chairs, perhaps a couple of easy chairs too would be great if you have any in decent condition that are not being used/needed?"

January 2006. Surprise! After Dorey telling us in October she expects the house extension to commence early 2006, the AVN began promoting FOUR fundraising appeals:

  • target $20,000 - for lobbying
  • target $17,000 - for advertising AVN in Bounty Bag
  • target $10,000 - to test vaccines for heavy metals
  • target $5,000 - to pay for AVN 1-800 number
These four appeals were bundled together and the AVN asked every member to make a $26 donation so they could reach the target of $52,000. Long story short on AVN fundraising and why I think it's relevant here please refer to Advodiaboli's post How Meryl Dorey stole $12,000 from AVN members and/or donors .

After October 2005 I can't find any further mention of the house extension but I also don't see Dorey complaining about the cramped quarters. Assuming this house extension did go ahead, I pose the following questions to Meryl Dorey:

  • what was the total cost of the house extension?
  • what percentage of this cost did the AVN pay?
  • if AVN did pay for all or part of it, did any of the funds come from fundraising appeals for other purposes?
  • by what amount has this extension increased the value of your house?
  • have you ever charged the AVN rent for use of this space? If so, how much?
  • is there a formal agreement in place between yourself and the AVN in regard to the extension in the event of the AVN closing or you leaving the organisation? If so, what was agreed?

And while we're here, let's take a quick look at AVN expenses (not including cost of goods sold).

* 2004 to 2006: these were the only expenses items listed in the financial statements.
* 2007 and 2008 statements were fully itemised; I have totalled these items in "Other" expenses.

What stands out to me is the increase in consultants fees in 2005 and increase in expenses in 2005 and 2006, with all these falling again from 2007.

So, did the house extension go ahead or not? Over to you, Meryl.

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