The province of Saskatchewan distributed significantly less money in charitable gaming grants this year compared to the amount for the same period before the COVID-19 pandemic.
From April 1 to June 30 in 2019, the government gave out close to $2.7 million in charitable gaming grants.
For the same period this year, the government gave out around $900,000 in the grants to organizations, the provincial government said in a Tuesday news release.
The grants are given to volunteer groups and organizations that fundraise through charitable gaming events such as raffles, bingo, poker games or break-open ticket sales. Charitable gaming reports submitted by the groups are used by the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority to calculate the grants.
They then receive a quarterly grant from the government which equals 25 per cent of the total amount of money they raised.
When organizations don't raise as much money, they receive a smaller grant.
David Morris, the manager for communications and public education for the SLGA, said the pandemic did have an effect on charitable gaming.
"There were a lot of sports teams that didn't play because of the pandemic, so that impacted charitable gaming," he said, adding that generally there are fluctuations from quarter to quarter depending on when the groups decide to hold their games.
The pandemic also meant many events like bingo nights had to be cancelled.
For some organizations, that threw a wrench in their fundraising plans.
"It makes me tired," said Jeff Rieger, the vice-president of Cat Action Teams of Saskatchewan. The organization works to help stray cats in Saskatchewan and is a foster-based rescue.
He said for years before the pandemic, the non-profit would go to community events such as hockey games, community barbecues and farmers' markets in order to sell raffle tickets. The organization would also hold occasional bingo nights to raise funds.
Rieger said the lack of fundraising during the pandemic has created more work for the volunteers and directors, as they try to find other ways to raise money.
While fundraising became more of a challenge, there has been no downturn in the number of animals that need help, and the organization still had to pay for vet bills and supplies needed to care for the animals, Rieger said.
Rieger also says there was a lack of funds even for people who wanted to contribute in some way.
"People had less money to give, and to game with."
The manager of a skating rink in the southern Saskatchewan town of Bengough says her organization's fundraising has also been affected by the pandemic.
The Bengough Skating Rink wasn't able to hold any of its hockey games, said manager Debra Ashby.
"Having people come into the rink and paying admission, and buying 50/50 tickets and buying food at our concessions, that was the big thing that we lacked."
The organization usually has an annual in-person fundraiser for the skating rink that couldn't happen this year because of the pandemic. It's usually a big fundraiser for the rink, Ashby said, with raffles, 50/50 tickets sales and a live auction.
However, the community was able to hold a raffle for an ATV, with most of the ticket sales done online, and was also able to hold a hay bale raffle to raise money for the rink.