Saskatchewan

Regina charities hoping fundraising campaigns worth risk

Regina charities helping poor and homeless are spending thousands on campaigns to attract donations leading up to Christmas.

The homeless are among the volunteers for Carmichael Christmas campaign

Donna Nelson does most of her donating on-line.

There was Black Friday, Cyber Monday and today is Giving Tuesday. It's a global day dedicated to giving back and local charities are hoping to reap the rewards of people's pre-Christmas generosity. 

Donna Nelson is one of thousands of people in Saskatchewan trying to figure who to donate to this time of year. 

"It's just sort of my belief system that everything I have is a gift so it's a decision of how much I have to keep for myself and how much do I give away," said Nelson. 

It's just sort of my belief system that everything I have is a gift so it's a decision of how much I have to keep for myself and how much do I give away.- Donna Nelson

The Regina woman donates ten per cent of her annual income to charity and said she is strategic about how she donates. 

"Registered charities can offer a tax receipt that can be good for a return of up to 44 cents on the dollar," explained Nelson. She also suggests donating when government pledges to match donations made by private citizens "because then your dollar goes a lot farther."

She says more than half of her donations go to local organizations, especially ones where she volunteers and has a personal connection such as the Regina Anti-poverty Ministry and Lumsden Beach Camp. 

Connection to a cause

"People who are involved with organizations or who have witnessed family members receive services from charitable organizations are more likely to give," said Bruce MacDonald, President and CEO of Imagine Canada. "Those who witnessed the act of giving by their parents, or grandparents or family members, they learned that's part of a healthy dynamic community, having citizens that care about each other."

Imagine Canada is an umbrella organization that represents charities across the country. The organization said the next six weeks will account for 40 per cent of all charitable donations made in 2015. 

Local charities working with Regina's poor and homeless are hoping to make the most out of the "season of giving".

Costs of Christmas campaigns 

The Salvation Army in Regina is hoping to raise $225,000 from their kettle bell campaign this season. (Colleen Underwood/CBC)

The Salvation Army is hoping to raise $225,000 through their iconic kettle bell campaign, they are hoping that money will make up 22 per cent of the annual budget for Salvation Army's Haven of Hope. 

Andrew Doan speaks for the Salvation Army in Regina, and said 40 per cent of his annual advertising budget is used this time of year. The Salvation Army takes out radio ads, electronic billboards and advertises on bus stops. 

It's risky business, but Katrina Robinson from Soul's Harbour in Regina agrees that it takes money to make money. 
Soul's Harbour recently launched a new website and invested in technology so people can donate using their smartphone. Robinson said online donations peak in November and December and she credits that to people feeling like they can make a tangible difference in the life of someone in their community during the holiday season. Her organization offers the option of buying a hot meal for someone in need. 

"Making it more individualistic is more appealing to people," said Robinson.

Homeless among volunteers 

Tyler Gray is with Carmichael Outreach in Regina. He agrees that the personal touch makes a huge difference to would-be donors. To that end, Carmichael relies on volunteers to hand-tie blue ribbons on each of the 15 thousand Christmas appeal letters the organization distributes this time of year. 

CBC asked one the volunteers who goes by the name Rocky why she wanted to spend her day stuffing envelopes for the Carmichael Christmas appeal. In response she read from a letter from the table in the coffee room. 

Rocky, volunteers to stuff envelopes for the Christmas appeal at Carmichael Outreach. (Nichole Huck/CBC )

"This Christmas we invite you to partner together with us as we work to end poverty and homelessness in our community," she read. "And I'm homeless," she added. 

Gray said Carmichael employs some of their regular visitors to deliver some of the appeal letters.

"It's only ten cents per letter, but it's a little extra in the pocket of someone who needs it this time of year," explained Gray. 

This year Carmichael is expanding its advertising beyond their regular mailouts and has invested in billboards. 

"Anytime you launch a new venture, or change the way it visually looks, there is always part of you that is a little bit worried that the return isn't going to be what it has been," said Gray. 

It's a season where there is a bit of anxiety when you are wondering if those funds are going to come through again.- Tyler Gray, Carmichael Outreach 

Gray admits spending money with the hopes of making money is a risky venture. 

He estimates the organization will spend nearly $10,000 on their Christmas appeal. Last year the investment paid off and the Christmas appeal raised between 12 and 15 per cent of Carmichael's total budget. 

Tyler Gray and volunteers prepare letters for Christmas campaign. (Nichole Huck/CBC )

"It's a season that has been traditionally exciting for us to see how the community partners with us," said Gray, "but it's a season where there's a little bit of anxiety when you are wondering if those funds are going to come through again."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nichole Huck

Producer

Nichole Huck is a mother of three and producer at CBC Saskatchewan. She is passionate about creating opportunities for open discussions and helping people find common ground. If you have a story idea email nichole.huck@cbc.ca.

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