Sudbury·Audio

Sudbury non-profit organizations hanging on despite dire findings in new COVID-19 survey

Non-profits across the country continue to face financial pressure and Sudbury's own charitable organizations are no exception. 

New survey shows 1 in 5 Ontario non-profits could be forced to shut down by end of year

Meals on Wheels Sudbury says it has added clients during the pandemic. It's also seen a turnover of volunteers and wonders about what the future holds. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

Non-profits across the country continue to face financial pressure and Sudbury's own charitable organizations are no exception. 

When the country shut down in March because of COVID-19, non-profit organizations, like many sectors, were forced to pivot their fundraising efforts and programming to adapt. 

Now, a new survey conducted by the Ontario Non-profit Network (ONN) has revealed some troubling findings among the 1,100 respondents. One in five say they may have to shut down by the end of December; and one in four responded they fear 2021 will likely be a greater financial struggle than this year. 

While Shannon Ketchabaw, the executive director of Meals on Wheels Sudbury, says the organization has fared relatively well considering the circumstances, she admits that could change at any moment.

'Will we be able to continue as we do?'

Right now, Ketchabaw said she's most concerned over the unknown variables that could lie ahead as the pandemic persists, like access to emergency funding. 

"Do I feel an impact is going to come and potentially hit Meals on Wheels, sure," Ketchabaw said, "Do I feel that potentially that if there's a second wave we may lose more volunteers? Will we be able to continue as we do? I don't know." 

But it hasn't all been bad, over the last several months, Ketchabaw said. Meals on Wheels Sudbury has seen an influx of new clients.

Charitable organizations should not just be seen as service providers but you know, we're employers, we're community builders, we're innovators.— Chantal Gladu-Depatie, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Sudbury

"We have been getting new clients daily, much more than we would have in the past ... so our numbers have increased significantly over the last six months," she said. 

While the non-profit has also dealt with the loss of a number of volunteers due to the pandemic, she said staff have also noticed a renewed interest in volunteering as people have been forced to stay at home.  

Chantal Gladu-Depatie, the executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Sudbury says the survey's findings were hard to digest. 

"It's devastating to hear," Gladu-Depatie said.

'We lost our Bowl for Kids Sake'

"Charitable organizations should not just be seen as service providers but you know, we're employers, we're community builders, we're innovators."

Gladu-Depatie said even as she counts her organization among the lucky ones, it has also experienced significant financial strain.

"We lost our Bowl for Kids Sake [event] which was approximately $40,000, so currently we're trying to host smaller events to try and make that up," she said.  

However, there are some silver linings, she noted. Since March, the organization has received 31 new volunteer applications. With a wait list of 35 children, Gladu-Depatie said staff are eager to process the new applications and create some new matches. 

A new survey has found that one in five Ontario non-profit organizations could be forced to shut down by the end of the year. We hear how some non-profits are fairing right here in Sudbury. 9:10

About the Author

Sam Juric

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Sam Juric is a reporter with CBC Sudbury and can be reached at samantha.juric@cbc.ca.

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