Changes and restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic are forcing charities to use creative ways to raise money to help serve those who count on them.
“It’s been an extremely challenging time for the charitable sector at large,” said Pam Valentine, president and CEO of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada.
Like several other charities, the MS Society is taking several of its events, including this Sunday’s annual charity walk, virtual.
“Some people might be able to walk around their house, some people might walk safely around their neighbourhoods. We’re just hoping that people will come out,” said Valentine.
She added the virtual walk is part of a bigger initiative created in response to a major decrease in funding caused by the pandemic.
“A lot of the charities, like ourselves, bring in the dollars from the generosity of donors and often get much of that money through events,” she explained, adding the inability to run regular face-to-face events has created a nearly 75 per cent dip in revenue.
While some have had to change the way host events, other charities have been forced to cancel events outright.
When the Alex Community Health Centre had to put a major Spring fundraiser on hold indefinitely, an unexpected supporter stepped up.
SunnyCider brewery collaborated with nine other local Calgary businesses to create, market and distribute a special cider. Partial proceeds from the sale of the new brew are being donated to the Alex, which provides health services to vulnerable Calgarians.
“I think overall we’ve seen incredible support from the community, really recognizing that not only did we have to change the way we did our work, but that we had to change how we talked about the work that we did to ensure that people still understood that we were here, we we’re still busy, we’re just connecting in different ways,” said The Alex Communications Manager Johanna Schwartz.
Other charities have also received critical support from the community.
The Calgary Dream Centre recently received a donation of more than $20,000 from a head-shaving fundraiser held virtually by employees from Morrison Homes.
The Razors for Recovery event, though held remotely, provided some much-needed support financially for the centre, and emotionally for its clients who have been isolated from family and friends for weeks.
“Now, more than ever, we are needing funding and now, more than ever, we are needing hope because these guys are alone and they need us and they need that support.
“So having this funding come through right now is very timely,” said the centre’s fund development manager Karen Hudson.
“While Morrison Homes can’t come in and they can’t wrap their arms around our guys, this display, this shaving their heads, is the same thing.
“It’s like coming into our building and telling each one of those guys: ‘I see you. I care about you and I’m here to support you,’ and that means the world to us.”