Giving Tuesday campaign urges support for charities during COVID-19 pandemic: Winnipeg United Way

United Way in Winnipeg is preparing for a Giving Tuesday fundraising event set for May 5. File / Global News

You might be used to the idea of Giving Tuesday as the day after shopping holidays like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but the concept has been given a different spin due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dave Angus, volunteer campaign chair with the United Way of Winnipeg, told 680 CJOB that a new Giving Tuesday event — set for May 5 — is a global campaign aimed at transforming communities through giving.

“I think it’s incredible that the decision was made right in the middle of our COVID-19 pandemic to have a day to remind everyone about generosity and the need for support to communities,” said Angus.

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“It’s a global day of action happening throughout communities around the world in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Kind of this unifying moment … where our community can put their minds toward community and those that are suffering and those needs that are out there.”

READ MORE: United Way Winnipeg launches new support program

Angus said the United Way — which works with over 100 agencies across the city with a focus on poverty, childhood development and strong communities — has seen many of its partners struggle to cope with the impact of the coronavirus crisis.

“Front-line agencies are absolutely overwhelmed right now because of the need — and it’s not like they had nothing to do prior to COVID-19,” said Angus.

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“We don’t have a specific (fundraising) target but we know Winnipeg and Manitoba — the most philanthropic province in the country — and we know that citizens will be there.

“The challenge they have is, not only has the need exponentially grown through this, but their ability to raise money has decreased in terms of their ability to actually do fundraising and those kinds of regular activities.”

Giving Tuesday, he said, encourages people to support any charity they choose — whichever agency individuals feel could use the most help.

Some areas he’s seen struggling with an immediate need include food security, helping the homeless and support for seniors, as well as resources for mental health, addiction, employment and training and helping people with disabilities.

“The reality is the need is only going to continue,” Angus said.

“This is not a sprint, it’s a marathon, and we look forward to Giving Tuesday as a real starting to point to us focusing on the community needs.”

As an open-ended fundraiser, which gives individual donors the choice to donate to whichever agency they prefer, there’s also no requested dollar amount.

“It can be as small or as big as people can handle. There’s a human element: people really want to give. It’s part of who we are, especially in this province,” Angus said.

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According to Giving Tuesday Canada, an organization that includes more than 7,000 partner agencies across the country, last year’s Giving Tuesday brought in more than $21 million in online donations in Canada.

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