As many as 20 per cent of Alberta’s non-profits could fold due to the pandemic

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Plexiglass dividers will separate players at gaming tables at the Grey Eagle Casino. The casino has reopened table games with enhanced cleaning and physical distancing. Photo by Jim Wells/Postmedia

Even now, non-profits are seeing COVID-19-related challenges in restarting gaming fundraisers, said both Ball and Doug Watson, CEO of the Volunteer Centre of Calgary.

“A lot of the volunteers who work those are seniors who are more vulnerable and agencies are concerned with asking them to go into those environments,” said Watson.

“Our casino is due next year and we’re looking at that (dilemma) ourselves.”

Watson, whose group operates an online portal, Volunteer Connecter, that links non-profits with volunteers, said searches for help are actually up this year over last, but 43 per cent fewer organizations are involved.

“They’re not sure if they can even run their operations so they’re not looking for volunteers,” he said.

“Almost all of them are running at (a budget of) $100,000 or less a year and if they don’t get one piece of funding, they don’t operate.”

Even grimmer, said Watson, is that many of the funding disruptions aren’t felt until months later.

“It’s going to be harder next year,” said Watson.

Those in the sector say while revenue is down, their costs have risen with the need to adapt to home-based work.

Children’s Link is one of those, said its executive director Eryn Dewalt, whose agency provides supports for kids with disabilities.

“We’ve had to do a lot of reinventing and of course there’s a cost to that while the demands from families has increased,” she said.

“Donations certainly haven’t.”

The agency, she said, hasn’t had to lay off any of its small staff of eight but has put on hold plans to make some contract workers permanent employees.

“It’s a scary time because we really should be hiring more people right now,” said Dewalt, adding the pandemic has heightened the need for its services among disabled children in schools.

It’s difficult to ask for donations from companies going through their own tough times, “but some are still really rising to the challenge,” she said.

The sector says some of the answers would be stable provincial funding and closer collaboration with the private sector in areas like pro-bono expertise and training.

on Twitter: @BillKaufmannjrn

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