David Whiteside, president of United Way Yukon, says that the organization needs more donors to remain sustainable. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News)

Fewer donations mean the United Way is worried about its sustainability

“In the past, people were much more willing to give you $10 a paycheque and let you work well with it”

While it’s not quite on the brink yet, the president of United Way Yukon says donations have been gradually declining, meaning that the local branch of the multinational non-profit organization has been funding fewer projects over the years.

That’s why David Whiteside is on a campaign to encourage Yukon businesses and employees to think about a tried-and-true method of giving — namely, setting up a system where a little bit is deducted off each pay cheque and donated — to try and reverse the trend.

In an interview Oct. 15, Whiteside said that while that’s how many Yukoners used to donate to the United Way, a “new donor landscape” has been emerging, with people preferring to respond to “calls for action” or to give to specific causes rather than passive giving.

“In the past, people were much more willing to give you $10 a paycheque and let you work well with it,” he said. “… However, I am guilty of responding to internet appeals just the same as everybody else is and some of my charity money at least goes to appeals either because a friend grows a moustache or because the Red Cross posts an emergency call because they’ve got a hurricane to deal with.”

According to Whiteside, in 2014, United Way Yukon was able to fund 26 programs with an average allocation of $6,000 each, while in 2017, allocating the same average amount, it was only able to fund 17 programs. While its still able to do its work, Whiteside said he’s concerned that, if the trend continues, the United Way will no longer be sustainable.

“We have to decide, do Yukoners see a value in what we do? And I will say there is value in what we do,” Whiteside said. “…Nobody really enjoys the fundraising the same as they enjoy, let’s say, cooking the soups (for the community kitchen) … It’s just not the same warm, cuddly feeling. It’s always one of the problems that charities face and we feel that our presence in the territory makes it easier for the charities that access our funds.”

Groups whose projects and programs have been funded by the United Way Yukon include Autism Yukon, Challenge Disability Resource Group, Blood Ties Four Directions and the Watson Lake Food Bank and Soup Kitchen Society.

For Samantha Lacourse, the coordinator for Victoria Faulkner Women’s Centre’s A Safe Place Program, having access to funds from the United Way is essential. Lacourse also oversees the Community Kitchen program, which brings people from all walks of life together for a free meal on Wednesdays and is largely funded via an allocation from United Way Yukon.

“Sharing a meal really equalizes the playing field and removes a lot of general feelings of power imbalance or status and social status or whatever. It’s just an incredible program,” she said.

Angela Krueger, executive director for Big Brothers Big Sisters, agreed, describing the United Way’s support as “crucial” — its allocation provides core funding for its mentoring coordinator in Whitehorse as well as its satellite program in Dawson City.

Big Brothers Big Sisters already does three major fundraisers to support itself, she said, but it’s not enough.

“That takes a lot of energy for staff to do and our board to do,” Krueger explained. “… One of the reasons United Way is so helpful is there’s a lump sum that I don’t have to worry about fundraising and directly asking people for … And that’s a really huge help for a small agency like ours, we only have two staff.”

“We’re very grateful to be a United Way-funded agency,” she added. “… United Way is able to connect with folks who would like to give but aren’t sure who they would like to donate their funds to.”

Whiteside said he’s been speaking to local businesses and business groups to try and warm them up to the idea of allowing direct-from-pay-cheque donations. So far, people have been receptive.

“There’s hope still,” he said.

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

United WayYukon

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, speaks to media at a press conference about COVID-19 in Whitehorse on March 30. The Yukon government announced three new cases of COVID-19 in Watson Lake on Oct. 23. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three new COVID-19 cases identified in Watson Lake

The Yukon government has identified three locations in town where public exposure may have occurred

Asad Chishti, organizer of the rally to support the conservation of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, leads marchers through chants with a megaphone outside the Bank of Montreal in Whitehorse on Aug. 28. The BMO is the second Candian bank to announce it will not directly fund oil and gas projects in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Bank of Montreal second Canadian bank to join ANWR boycott

BMO joins RBC, the first to commit to the boycott

Premier Sandy Silver, left, and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brendan Hanley speak during a COVID-19 update press conference in Whitehorse on July 29. Silver urged “kindness and patience” during the weekly COVID-19 update on Oct. 21, after RCMP said they are investigating an act of vandalism against American travellers in Haines Junction.
(Alistair Maitland Photography file)
COVID-19 update urges “kindness and patience” for travellers transiting through the territory

“We need to support each other through these challenging times”

Whitehorse Correctional Centre officials have replied to a petition by inmate Charabelle Silverfox, who alleges she’s being kept in conditions mirroring separate confinement, arguing that her placement isn’t nearly as restrictive as claimed. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Inmate not being kept in restrictive confinement, WCC argues in response to petition

Whitehorse Correctional Centre (WCC) officials have replied to a petition by an… Continue reading

wyatt
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for Oct. 23, 2020

asdf
Today’s mailbox: Electricity and air travel

Letters to the editor published Oct. 23, 2020

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Irony versus Climate

Lately it seems like Irony has taken over as Editor-in-Chief at media… Continue reading

Evan Lafreniere races downhill during the U Kon Echelon Halloweeny Cross-Country Race on Oct. 16. (Inara Barker/Submitted)
Costumed bike race marks end of season

The U Kon Echelon Bike Club hosted its final race of the… Continue reading

Smartphone showing various applications to social media services and Google. (Pixabay photo)
National media calling for level playing field with Google, Facebook

In Canada, Google and Facebook control 80 per cent of all online advertising revenues

Education Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee, right, before question period at the Yukon legislative assembly in Whitehorse on March 7, 2019. The Yukon government announced Oct. 19 it has increased the honoraria rates for school council members. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Honoraria increased for school council members

Members of school councils throughout the territory could soon receive an increased… Continue reading

Triple J’s Canna Space in Whitehorse on April 17, 2019, opens their first container of product. Two years after Canada legalized the sale of cannabis, Yukon leads the country in per capita legal sales. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon leads Canadian cannabis sales two years after legalization

Private retailers still asking for changes that would allow online sales

A sign greets guests near the entrance of the Canada Games Centre in Whitehorse on June 11. The city announced Oct. 16 it was moving into the next part of its phased reopening plan with spectator seating areas open at a reduced capacity to allow for physical distancing. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
CGC reopening continues

Limited spectator seating now available

During Whitehorse city council’s Oct. 19 meeting, planning manager Mélodie Simard brought forward a recommendation that a proposed Official Community Plan amendment move forward that would designate a 56.3 hectare piece of land in Whistle Bend, currently designated as green space, as urban residential use. (Courtesy City of Whitehorse)
More development in Whistle Bend contemplated

OCP change would be the first of several steps to develop future area

Most Read