Island charities brace for drop in donations due to COVID-19

As charities across Prince Edward Island try to find new ways to support the people they serve, some say COVID-19 is already having an effect on their ability to raise funds.

Many have had to cancel planned events that normally bring in significant revenue, including the Canadian Cancer Society's annual daffodil campaign, where fresh flowers and daffodil pins are sold to raise money for cancer care and research. 

"This is an extremely unfortunate situation for us as an organization, but also for people who live with cancer," said Kelly Cull, regional director of public policy with the Canadian Cancer Society for the Atlantic region. 

"It's an important fundraising campaign for the Canadian Cancer Society ... but it's also a really meaningful way that people connect and show support for people who are living with cancer."

$70K in donations from P.E.I.

She said the daffodil campaign brings in about $20 million across the country each year — about $70,000 of that from Prince Edward Island. 

Jean Laroche/CBC

In light of COVID-19, the society has moved the campaign online, where supporters can purchase a "digital daffodil."

Cull said without the organization's usual 30,000 volunteers pounding the pavement, it's hard to say how much money this year's campaign will raise — but she expects donations will decline substantially. 

"We know that it's going to be significant, for certain," said Cull. "But we're just not at a point yet where we can project with any level of accuracy right now."

'A change to the cash flow'

Before COVID-19 changed physical interactions. the Canadian Mental Health Association was gearing up for Mental Health Week in May, a spring gala, and their annual golf tournament in June — all opportunities to raise both awareness and funds. 

Submitted by Bianca McGregor

Bianca McGregor is the manager of fund development, marketing and promotions with the Canadian Mental Health Association of Prince Edward Island and says for now, those events have all been postponed until the fall. 

"A little bit of a change to the cash flow," said McGregor. "But we anticipate and we hope that we'll be able to to put these events on, and that they'll be a success and then we'll just have a busier fall than we intended."

She said the group relies heavily on corporate donations, or third-party fundraisers, as do many others in the charitable sector — efforts that will also be put on hold or called off, with so many companies facing their own financial constraints. 

"Our colleagues and our counterparts in the non-profit world are probably going to feel that trickle-down effect," said McGregor, who expects the same for personal donations. 

"People are worried about their jobs and their own financial security ... so we are less likely to see those one-time individual donations."

Officials with the Alzheimer Society of P.E.I. say they are still assessing the potential financial effects of COVID-19 on fundraising efforts, but say they plan to go ahead with some form of the annual Walk for  Alzheimer's scheduled for the end of May in Charlottetown. Discussions on how to do that safely are underway. 

COVID-19: What you need to know

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Common symptoms include:

  • Fever.
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  • Tiredness.

But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia, which can lead to death.

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Isolate yourself and call your local public health authority. Do not visit an emergency room or urgent care centre to get tested.

How can I protect myself?

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More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.

More COVID-19 stories from CBC P.E.I.