Calgary

Alberta charities struggling as donations flow to Fort McMurray

While the Red Cross counts record-breaking donations in Alberta, the Fort McMurray fire and a struggling economy are taking a toll on some Alberta charities.

Sluggish economy and emergency donations mean there's less money to go around

This little cutie stepped up to sell Hospitals' Lottery tickets for the Red Deer Regional Health Foundation. (RDRH Foundation Hospitals’ Lottery)

While the Red Cross counts record-breaking donations in Alberta, the Fort McMurray fire and a struggling economy are taking a toll on some Alberta charities.

Ticket sales for the Hospitals' Lottery stalled when the Fort McMurray fire hit, says Cynthia de Boer with the Red Deer Regional Health Foundation.

"We're getting very nervous. Our campaign ends on June 19 so we've only got a few days left," she said. 

According to de Boer, sales for the lottery, which is supposed to pay for cardiac equipment, is down more than 20 per cent.

'Tough spot'

It's a similar story at the Fresh Start Recovery Centre, which helps men with addictions. 

"Some of our donors are deciding to support Fort Mac," said Stacey Peterson, the executive director.

Stacey Petersen, the executive director of Fresh Start Recovery Centre, said donations are down thanks to a sluggish economy and the Fort McMurray fire. (Fresh Start Recovery Centre)

"It's a tough spot to be because you want to support Fort Mac as well — I mean it's the right thing to do — but at the same time we still have to continue to offer the services that we do to the community."

Cheryl Lemieux, with the Calgary Urban Project Society, said the non-profit organization was already expecting a 20 per cent drop in donations this year due to the economic downturn.

"Any time we experience a disaster where you do see such a large number of people come together to provide significant financial support, charities and non-profits may be impacted as donations can be redirected," she said. 

The Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organizations said some groups that rely on lotteries and gala events can have a tougher time selling tickets after emergencies, but overall, when disaster strikes, people tend to give more.

With files from Jennifer Lee

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