By SUBMITTED BY THE ALLIED ARTS COUNCIL on December 11, 2020.
Each year, December is kicked off by Giving Tuesday. The first Tuesday after Black Friday has been designated as a day to offset the excess of purchasing prior to the holidays by supporting charity. Non-profits, including arts non-profits, also align this holiday with their annual giving campaigns. It is a time to support those in the spirit of giving and also ensure an end-of-the-year tax receipt in preparation for the upcoming year.
2020 is both alike and also different than previous years. Arts non-profits have had to lay off staff and may not be able to launch a campaign. Donors may have had financial setbacks. The world feels unsettled and many are in a holding pattern until we receive a vaccine. Regardless, there are still many ways to support local arts organizations and non-profits.
The first way traditionally is to send a cheque directly to the organization or to their endowment program with the Community Foundation of Lethbridge and Southwestern Alberta. Giving a cheque to an organization supports the current programming and allows them to use the funds directly. Donating to an organization’s endowment helps build financial security and stability into the future. The donation is invested and the principal held in trust. Organizations are not paid out until the core funding level is reached, the initial seed funding remains untouched and the organization is paid out through earnings on the investment. In both cases, the organization will issue a tax receipt that you can use in the spring.
Feeling like the amount may not be significant enough to bother? Many arts non-profits are members of CanadaHelps.org, an online organization that assists in fundraising. Their simple and safe online portal allows for one-time gifts but also recurring monthly donations. This monthly donation is less of a strain on the pocketbook but still offers a tax receipt at the end of the year. Another benefit to this site is that many organizations have set up different programs you can support so that your contribution can be more targeted. Amongst the arts organizations represented on Canada Helps are the Lethbridge Symphony, New West Theatre, Lethbridge Community Band Society, Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Troyanda Dance Club and the Allied Arts Council.
If donating funds is not currently practical, consider donating time. Many organizations have virtual volunteering opportunities this year. These may include phone banking on behalf of the organization. Are you someone who enjoys speaking on the phone? You may be tasked with checking in with members, promoting membership or assisting with a fundraising campaign. There may be work on social media or websites available if you are tech savvy. Check in with Volunteer Lethbridge to see what opportunities are currently available.
Lethbridge consistently ranks within the top communities of charitable giving. In 2020, Lethbridge was ranked fifth in charitable giving across the country as reported by charitableimpact.com. While more than the Canadian average, the trend of philanthropic donations has been declining each year. Times may be tough but it is important to continue to support the organizations that contribute to the unique ecosystems of our city, making Lethbridge a desirable community to live and work.
Don’t forget that Giving Tuesday is a promotional campaign meant to amplify the message of charitable giving. Organizations are very thankful for donations throughout the year. There are 364 other days in the year, so you can support the organizations that mean the most to you when it makes sense and is feasible.