Calgary charities hope $40 million lottery win leads to payoff

CALGARY- The incredible generosity of a Calgary man who pledged to donate all of his $40 million dollar winnings has got everyone talking—including those in the non-profit sector.

Tom Crist won the Lotto Max back in May, but word of his incredible luck only emerged on Monday. He plans to use the money to fund a trust he started following the death of his wife Janice nearly two years ago, who passed away after a six year cancer battle.

READ MORE: Who is $40 million jackpot winner Tom Crist?

The news has Calgary charities racing to respond, trying to research Crist’s past to learn things like where he went to university, and causes he has supported in the past.

“Does he go to the theatre, does he have a dog, a cat, does he support homelessness,” explains Lorie Abernethy, president of the Calgary chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. “There are so many questions to ask about ‘who is this guy’ and ‘what’s his story,’ because that’s what fundraising is really all about.”

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She adds that Crist has some big decisions to make, that can make a huge difference.

“There have been a series of years where we all had to tighten our wallets a lot, because of the downturn in 07/08. Budgets are tight, Alberta’s got a deficit now we’re dealing with…so this is a lot of power.”

READ MORE: How to choose a charity this holiday season

Charities are also watching for ‘drive-by donations,’ where a donor approaches them by simply showing up with a cheque in hand. Crist has already gone to the Tom Baker Cancer Centre and presented a huge cheque in memory of his wife, but it remains to be what other causes he’ll support.

“Even if he gave half a million, a million, it could change how an organization exists.”

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