Salvation Army 50 per cent below national fundraising goal, not alone in struggle

Click to play video: 'Salvation Army still searching for donations'
Salvation Army still searching for donations
The Salvation Army is still calling for donations as it is short 50 per cent of its Canada-wide fundraising goal and the charity fears cutbacks could be possible – Dec 20, 2023

Less than 11 full days are left in the Salvation Army’s kettle campaign, and about $11 million still needs to be fundraised — about half of the organization’s national goal.

Maj. Al Hoeft, secretary for public relations in the Salvation Army’s prairie division said the challenge of fundraising isn’t new, but the level of demand is.

“Here in Winnipeg, we’ve seen about a 15-per cent increase in families that have come to us for support this year,” Hoeft said. “Some of these people may have been donors in the past.

“Then, because of how things have gone in the economy with them and their families this year, they’re finding themselves in a very different space and not being able to support, but actually having to come to us for assistance.”

A similar picture is painted for many other non-profit organizations, relying on donations to fund various programs and services.

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“Twenty-two per cent of Canadians rely almost solely on charities for support, and 57 per cent of those charities can’t meet the demand that they have,” said Karen Fowler, president of the Association of Fundraising Professionals Manitoba Chapter.

She said even though Manitoba has the highest percentage of tax filers that donate to charity in the country, “charitable donations are definitely declining,” and have been for at least a decade.

Kristie Pearson, co-chair of the 2023 United Way Campaign, said she’s been seeing this problem expedited since the pandemic.

“It has really impacted so many folks in the community, and so the need is higher. Any folks that were right on that bubble of poverty have possibly slipped below that bubble now, and are below the poverty line and are struggling,” she said, adding one in four people needing a hamper to put food on their table are actually employed, but can’t afford basic needs.

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“Inflation is impacting them, and unfortunately, we are seeing folks cutting back on what they’re giving to others.”

Hoeft said if fundraising goals aren’t met, there is potential to see reductions in services the Sally Ann provides.

“If we’re not able to afford (them, and) needing to cut back at all, or reduce any sort of service, then we’ll have to review that next year.”

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He said funds from the kettle campaign are often funnelled to Christmas services to get people through the holidays, like toy programs and a community dinner at the Centre of Hope which is prepared to feed up to 1,500 people.

Hoeft added the funds also bolster 365-day-a-year services that “come alongside sheltering programs that help with transitioning, and helping families avoid homelessness.”

Pearson said with cutbacks in donations, volunteers are pushing themselves hard to be able to fundraise so that their programs and services aren’t run into the ground.

“The workers at United Way are working a lot harder this year to get that same amount of money in certain areas. It’s been very difficult for some,” she said.

For her, the increased work has been emotionally taxing.

“I am feeling the strain and the drain, and that has been difficult this year, I will say. More difficult than previous years for me.”

She said she feels uplifted by the wonderful work those one the front lines are doing despite the onslaught of obstacles.

Hoeft said the Salvation Army “is making sure that we do everything possible to achieve our targets. That involves engaging the community and having these conversations,” he said, “to remind the community of the support that’s needed so that we can continue to provide these services and programs on behalf of the community as a whole.

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“We work very hard to make sure that those happen.”

He said Winnipeg is in a good position, with three quarters of its $300,000 goal already met. “I think we have a decent chance of making it,” he said.

Pearson said she hopes those with a little extra money to spare will “open up their hearts, and pockets to help other folks who are really struggling with those difficulties, and maybe not even able to put the food on their table this Christmas, never mind be able to buy presents or go on a trip or do anything else.”

“When you make that gift, you’re actually making a big impact on someone’s life,” Fowler added. “It’s also an act of gratitude. Right? You’re thankful for what you’ve received in life and the position that you’re in, (and) you’re able to give back to help others.

“Even as little as one dollar can make a huge difference to someone in the world.”

The hope is that Winnipeggers, and Canadians, will lean into giving where they can, Pearson said, instead of being disconnected.

“When you look someone in the eye and you see their pain or their sorrow, it’s a lot harder to not want to give, or to support, or to help. But if you just drive by and a bus shack with someone living in there and you don’t look at that person, maybe you’re able to feel anger and see mess rather than see the person that’s living there.”

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She said, “I’d like to hope that our community will connect again.”

Click to play video: 'Winnipeg charities crunched for time with Christmas coming, need volunteers'
Winnipeg charities crunched for time with Christmas coming, need volunteers

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