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Quest needed public help in tough year

The Yukon Quest had to find some new benefactors this year to make up for lost sponsors and disappearing trail volunteers.

The Yukon Quest had to find some new benefactors this year to make up for lost sponsors and disappearing trail volunteers.

“This year was difficult for all non-profits across Canada and we were no different,” said Wendy Morrison, the Quest’s executive director. “Sponsorship was definitely a challenge this year.”

For the first time ever, Ottawa pitched in $262,320 for the annual dog sledding race, to be spent over two years.

“Part of the federal money is to help us be self-sufficient with the trail,” said Morrison.

The Canadian Rangers, which usually volunteer to help maintain the 1,600 kilometre trail during the race, decided to opt out this year.

For the 2010 race, all $132,000 from the federal grant was used for the trail. Next year, part of it will be used to boost the Quest’s merchandising.

The race organization wants to sell more stuff on line, said Morrison.

“We have great traffic on our website already and we need to bring our merchandising up to that level,” she said.

The goal is to target Europeans and North Americans who visit the site.

The Ottawa money is on top of another subsidy of $150,000 from the Yukon government.

That money is part of a long-term funding agreement and must be spent on marketing and media strategy, said Morrison.

The Quest’s budget, which is between $500,000 and $600,000 in total, can be roughly divided up into quarters.

On top of the territorial and federal grants, each representing a quarter of the funding, another quarter comes from sponsors and another from fundraising, said Morrison.

The Quest’s major sponsors, which donate $25,000 or more, included the Alaska Pipeline Project, the Gwich’in Development Corporation and Northern Outfitters this year.

None of the money gathered in Canada is spent in Alaska, said Morrison.

The Quest is actually made of two non-profit organizations, one based in each jurisdictions so their funding doesn’t mix.

The Alaska side doesn’t get any financial help from the state of Alaska or the US federal government, but it does receive assistance from the city of Fairbanks, said Morrison.

The Quest’s Fairbanks office was not available for comment.

The last study on the Quest’s economic spin-offs was done in 2005 and found that the race brought in $1.6 million to the territory.

Organizers are planning another study soon, said Morrison.

Contact James Munson at