Is Fundraising the Best Model for a Charity?

laurie and fashion Santa

Laurie wearing her HopeSpring wig during treatment.

For the last 8 months, I have been very busy learning the job of Executive Director of HopeSpring. HopeSpring Cancer Support Centre helps people affected by cancer, whether the patient, caregiver, family, or supporter. The organization offers non-medical  psycho-social programs like gentle exercise (yoga and tai chi), relaxation therapies (massage, therapeutic touch), cancer care counselling (individual and family), stress reduction (art expression, meditation), and group peer support (caregivers, men, women, ovarian cancer). HopeSpring is 100 percent funded by donations. Thank you so much to all of you who support HopeSpring.

It is a very different financial environment from overseeing a regional municipality where shortfalls, whether from other levels of government or inflation are filled with property taxes. Charities must raise the funds they need to survive each year by donations from individuals and corporations, and grants. There is no taxpayer available to cover any shortfalls. We are dependent on the generosity of our donors.

When the pleas from charities come in your door or email this time of year, don’t be irritated. Everyone of us is providing a much needed and necessary service. There truly isn’t anything like a free lunch. Donate Here

The Federal Government’s Plan for Non-Profits and Charities

The federal government is going ahead with  a social finance fund where for-profit companies would take on the risk of a charity’s proposed plan. To me this sounds very much like the public private partnership the Region of Waterloo used to build the LRT. It’s working!

So for HopeSpring, where we are starting a capitol fundraising plan in the next year to raise funds for a new home, this idea would be a very good one.  HopeSpring is growing and our space is too small.

For profit partnerships for charities

There are also funds that will fund Investment Readiness for social finance and will be distributed through community foundations. Social innovation and finance funds

Here is the question HopeSpring has to think about. Right now all our services and programs are free. We feel this is very important as people with cancer have enough to think about and also, since often chemo and radiation mean time off work, funds can be limited. A regular priced wig can cost 200 to 300 dollars. Yet they are important for women who lose their hair temporarily from chemo. We don’t want them to go without, as often women won’t think of themselves. So all our wigs are free due to the generousity of Zonta.

It has been hinted in conversations about social finance funding, that HopeSpring should charge for our counselling sessions as other non-profit counselling organizations do for those who can afford it. However the hospital cancer social workers are “free” for cancer patients with payment coming from government sources. Some hospital social workers in some hospitals are being cut back, leaving cancer patients without the resources to get help for anxiety, stress and loss. HopeSpring could fill the gap if we have the donations. The difference between government funding and fundraising.

So here is my question: Is fundraising the best model for charities?

Three years ago, we almost lost HopeSpring Cancer Support Centre due to the ending of a major fundraising golf tournament. This near bankruptcy has happened to other organizations like the Symphony. The community rallied around and raised the funds for HopeSpring to continue through a gofundme. We know the community wants HopeSpring.  Now three years later, we are on our feet again in a smaller location, helped by the generosity of the Inn of Waterloo and our donors. But with the growth in cancer cases, the need has become greater.  Middle class families (the people the Federal government has dedicated a ministry to) cannot afford 90 to 100 dollars a session for cancer counselling on top of all the other caregiving and financial problems involved with having cancer. Thank goodness for medicare that covers most of the costs of treatment.

Fundraising is a good model for charities like HopeSpring Cancer Support Centre, but only with your support. Every year we need donations from people like you to survive. When those pleas come through your mailbox or in an email, please sit down and put together an annual giving plan. Charities need your help every year, not just once. If you want HopeSpring Cancer Support Centre to continue to survive and thrive, please become an annual donor. Thank you to all of you who donate, you keep us helping people affected by cancer.

Donate Here



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