The power of one tweet: how Arlene Dickinson raised over $500,000 for Calgary food banks

Welcome to Arlene Dickinson’s “Den.” She’s alone in her Calgary home practicing social distancing, but sees this as an opportunity to focus and get more work done than she could when she was constantly travelling and networking. “I’m probably more productive now than I was when I thought I was so busy,” she says.

Dragons’ Den senior producer Molly Middleton caught up with our Venture Capitalist to see how her business and life have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

Keeping up with demand while also creating demand

Through the pandemic, Arlene closed $100M in funding for her accelerator, District Ventures Capital, which invests in consumer goods startups that focus on food and wellness. Arlene says those companies have had big success through the pandemic because food and health is on everyone’s minds right now.

Her marketing firm, Venture Communications, has “gone through a different metamorphosis.”  Their biggest clients have shut down their marketing spend, so Arlene’s firm has had to pivot. “One is keeping up with the demand, the other one is making sure we create new demand,” she says. 

Power of one tweet

Worried about the hardships her fellow Calgarians were facing, Arlene was inspired by a food bank campaign in Ottawa and decided to do something for her own city. She partnered up with Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi for a Twitter campaign to donate $10,000 to the Calgary Food Bank.



It took no time to get 10,000 retweets. Within eight days, the campaign raised well over their initial goal — at the time of this interview it had raised over $500,000. “The outpouring of support for this has been so rewarding,” says Arlene.

Words of encouragement

Arlene wants us all to know that we’re going to get through this difficult time. “We’ve gone through tragedy and challenges before as a nation, and we’re going to come out the other side of this stronger,” she says. “Things like this make us even better as humans.”

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