Charities in Sudbury taking massive hit with COVID-19
SUDBURY -- There's major restructuring happening in the charity world right now as many of the city's most recognizable not-for-profits are losing money.
"For the Canadian Cancer Society -- this is our greatest struggle in our 85-year existence," said the Canadian Cancer Society's Sally Dunton. "We anticipate a 40 per cent drop in revenue this year because of cancelled events and just changes in personal giving, people are experiencing financial stress."
They've closed their Regent Street office temporarily and staff are working from home.
Given that many of their clients are immunocompromised, they've moved a lot of their programs online out of an abundance of caution.
YMCA Northeastern Ontario says it's dealing with a $1.4 million loss in revenue in the last 17 weeks and they're anticipating things will get worse before it gets better.
"We are heavily dependent on what we were so proud to call the first social enterprise model where we rely on membership revenue to pay for a lot of the fixed costs and upkeep to the building and those membership fees help offset the costs to programs and services that require financial assistance," said Helen Francis, president and CEO.
'It's super daunting'
Francis said they know they're likely going to have to limit the amount of people that can use the facility at any given time.
"It's super daunting, I've been really proud of the team who's been really innovative and we've been trying to find ways to continue to provide programs and services to our community," she said.
They've had to look at new ways to deliver programs such as employment and settlement services and child care. There are some day camps running at limited capacity while the overnight camps are cancelled for the moment.
"The challenge for a charity or not-for-profit is the ability to be able to recoup those lost revenues, be it through philanthropic fundraising events that we haven't been able to hold and probably can't hold in the same way, we'll probably never get it back," Francis added.
They're currently working with all three levels of government and lobbying the federal government for further support through the charitable sector of their operations.
Officials also haven't ruled out restructuring or repurposing existing space to become more cost effective.
"Could we bring in other community service providers and make sure this is truly a community hub for everybody?" Francis said.
It's too soon to say whether the changes will be minor or drastic in nature. They're waiting to see how much of their checklist they can address before re-opening, such as ensuring staff feel safe about returning.
The United Way Northeastern Ontario has not seen a noticeable drop in funding thanks to help from the federal government, but demand for their services from not-for-profits is up exponentially.
"We've seen increased demand," said Mary Lou Hussak.
"We've seen people who can't do fundraising events now (and they're) very dependent on those types of funds. They're scrambling to see how they can continue those types of services in a crisis."