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Charities squeezed

At least three annual events that typically bring in big donations for charities have been cancelled this month due to the economic downturn, leaving philanthropists scrambling for new methods to make money.

At least three annual events that typically bring in big donations for charities have been cancelled this month due to the economic downturn, leaving philanthropists scrambling for new methods to make money.

Calgary Cares, the Wild Gala and Turn On Calgary bring in as much as $200,000 annually for their respective charities, but due to lack of sponsorship for Calgary Cares and lack of ticket sales for the Wild Gala and Turn On Calgary, they were all cancelled. The charities are instead turning to grants and giving campaigns.

“It’s a sign of the times,” said Greg Belland, executive director of the Southern Alberta Parks and Wilderness Association. The organization runs the Wild Gala — which typically draws 400 people — but has only secured 100 guests to date. It needs more than 250 ticket sales just to break even.

“The trend is away from these kind of events. We’re seeing fewer donations, so we also have to do a better job with donor relations,” Belland said.

Belland is hoping for corporate grants, but said those funds have to be used for specific endeavours, leaving the company with less flexibility in their funding.

“There are all kinds of implications. We may have to start looking for smaller places to rent or lay people off.”

Calgary Cares, a gala for AIDS Calgary, typically brings in $150,000 to $200,000 annually. The event was cancelled after receiving half of its typical support.

“A gala event is very expensive,” said AIDS Calgary communications analyst Amanda Chapman. “It can cost about $50,000 to produce the event. So we’re making a switch to having an annual giving campaign, which would not incur the same costs.”

However, some organizations are finding success with smaller gala events. Sage Theatre is hosting a gala on March 27 and artistic director Kelly Reay says ticket sales are going well.

“We’re able to sell tickets because we’re not a big, extravagant event. Fifty dollars is pretty cheap for a night of live music, food and a party.”

 
 
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