Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women Leela Sharon Aheer speaks during a press conference in Edmonton on Wednesday, April 22, 2020.
Wayne Steer, Fresh Start Recovery Centre director of fund development, poses for a photo on Monday, November 18, 2019 with a poster that was used in community in order to bring awareness about the Centre upon its opening.
Usually the global initiative Giving Tuesday occurs in November.
It follows Black Friday and encourages individuals to shift their focus from saving and spending to giving by using the power of generosity to help nonprofit organizations in need.
But the COVID-19 pandemic has presented an immediate challenge for these organizations. Many are struggling and particularly those in Calgary.
So in order to bring these charitable groups into the forefront of people’s minds, the day of generosity was bumped up a few months and celebrated on Tuesday, highlighting the importance of giving back even during the toughest of times.
Many shared their good deeds on social media, using the hashtag #GivingTuesdayNow as Canada joined five other countries that shared the giving spirit.
“This year, we’re in a different time and a different world,” said Lys Hugessen, vice president of Partnerships and GivingTuesday Canada. “We decided to create a second Giving Tuesday that would inspire people to not only give — because people have been giving very generously already in the past six weeks — but also to think of our global community and try to get ourselves inspired by (the global health crisis) that’s bringing us together. We can give together and be generous in all kinds of ways together.”
On Tuesday, the Alberta government allocated $2-million to match donations to COVID-19 response efforts by eight designated Alberta-based charities including the United Way of the Capital Region, United Way Calgary and Area, United Way of Central Alberta, Calgary Foundation, Edmonton Community Foundation, Community Foundation of Southeastern Alberta, Community Foundation of Lethbridge and Southwestern Alberta, and Community Foundation of Northwestern Alberta.
In a statement, Leela Sharon Aheer, Alberta’s Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women, thanked Albertans for their generosity.
“Today is #GivingTuesdayNow, a new global day of giving in response to COVID-19,” said Aheer. “Every donation will help in some way, and I am inviting all Albertans to embrace the power of kindness and give what they can to meet the needs of vulnerable communities during the pandemic.”
Wayne Steer, director of fund development for Fresh Start Recovery Centre, said COVID-19 has impacted their group dramatically. Their long-term recovery centre helps men recover from addiction so they can return to their families and back into the community. Since March 15, they’ve had to follow Alberta Health Services guidelines, implementing social distancing and encouraging their participants to remain at the centre which can be a difficult thing for those suffering from addiction. Steer, who is the Calgary lead for #GivingTuesdayNow, said their organization is in need of cash donations to ensure their programs continue operating when COVID-19 has settled.
He encourages Calgarians to give back and help out, no matter what that looks like.
“Kindness is the glue that holds community and humanity together,” Steer said. “Kindness or giving can take many forms. It can be as easy as doing something for your next-door neighbour, seeing someone in need and helping them out and maintaining physical distancing, even just reaching out and saying hi to someone. Those are some easy things to do.
“But, also, to reach out and recognize that there are some agencies that really need help.”
The Calgary Foundation distributes grants and funding to various registered charities in the city and area. They have started a Pandemic Recovery Program, a three-phase program addressing urgent organizational needs during COVID-19. So far, they’ve made $2 million in grants which is to be distributed to over 300 organizations that have requested funding.
“Charitable giving has gone down as individuals are also rightfully concerned for their own economic standing right now,” said Jason Bates, vice president, grants and community initiatives at Calgary Foundation. “They aren’t really sure how much they have to give of themselves. The other big thing, a lot of charities take advantage of the good weather in the springtime to host their fundraising events … they all have had to be cancelled. Organizations rely on those events to pay for their operations for the rest of the year.”
Bates said, additionally, there is a lot of anxiety about what the current situation means for future fundraising events.
He also hopes many charities and non-for-profits are considered, in the spirit of #GivingTuesdayNow and beyond.
“Right now there are charities that are full-on; the demand on their services has skyrocketed,” Bates said. “There have been a lot of donations directed to those organizations which is great; that need exists and is going to continue to exist. But there are other charities that provide really important services in the city that need to survive (COVID-19). There is some concern that all of the focus will go just to the social service sector and leaving the other charities more vulnerable.”
Calgary United Way shared a video on Twitter promoting the spread of kindness. For every retweet it received during the day, $10 (up to $50,000) would be donated to the COVID-19 Alberta relief fund thanks to a group of passionate local donors.
“Because even when we’re apart, we stand united,” the message said.
Mayor Naheed Nenshi retweeted it, promoting #GivingTuesdayNow and the global movement.
But there is reason to believe that many will step up during this pandemic — and not only individuals.
Benevity Inc. released a special COVID-19 Relief report on Tuesday titled Leading with Purpose in Extraordinary Times in which data was examined from over 500 purpose-driven companies between March 1 and April 30. It highlights how businesses are activating their people and communities during a global crisis.
The report highlights that businesses have been quick to respond, despite economic uncertainty and a looming recession. More than 500 companies and 450,000 employees drove $640 million in donations, 786,000 volunteer hours, 53,000 small acts of goodness and 8,648 corporate grants to support 79,000 global causes in eight weeks.
Community investment budgets are being sustained or boosted while matching donations is the most common response. Volunteering has declined, but virtual volunteering is on the rise.
Also, the types of causes people and companies are choosing to support have shifted, with the share of total donation volume showing significant increases in human services, food security, public safety and disaster preparedness/relief, community improvement and employment.
“It is heartening to see when we have a challenge that humanity steps up, said Bryan de Lottinville, Benevity Inc. founder and CEO. “When companies are recognizing a larger sense of purpose than just the pursuit of profit, it’s really powerful to see what can be accomplished.”
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020