Giving Tuesday

On this snowy Tuesday morning, I thought I write a post on Giving Tuesday and its importance.

The snow that fell overnight in Kitchener-Waterloo.

The topic of donations is not a popular one. Individuals are often inundated with requests for donations, particularly in this season of giving. It is important to remember that the time when donations are needed most is often the time when individuals are least likely to be able to provide donations. The pandemic has created a surge of demand for donations to help those who have been most affected. For this reason, I have decided to share links to some organizations that need your support.

Let’s start with healthcare. There is no doubt that hospitals are starting to feel overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases. We have been very lucky that our first wave of infections was not larger. This gave us the gift of time to prepare for the second wave and subsequent waves. However, preparations are not cheap. In Waterloo Region, the Grand River Hospital Foundation, St. Mary’s General Hospital Foundation, and the Cambridge Memorial Hospital Foundation support our local hospitals.

Next, let’s examine mental health and wellness. Lockdowns and other measures have taken a significant toll on the mental health of Canadians. There are many organizations that provide essential services to those in need. Some of the organizations that come to mind are the Canadian Mental Health Association, the Dollar a Day Foundation, and the Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council. There is an urgent need to improve access to services as individuals cope with missing their family and friends over the upcoming holidays.

Another important priority is food. Food banks have faced increased costs of delivery and increased demand for food. The Food Bank of Waterloo Region can support those in need of food with 300 healthy meals for just $100. The Salvation Army also works to provide food and other necessities to those in need. You might be surprised to learn that last year, Salvation Army shelters served 3.3 million free meals last year to people in need.

Next, let’s look at ways to support education. All levels of education have been significantly altered by the pandemic. The Waterloo Region District School Board operates the Waterloo Education Foundation Inc. (WEFI) that provides school nutrition programs, support for less advantaged students, and funding for anti-bullying programs, among others. The Waterloo Region Catholic Schools Foundation supports Catholic schools and their students. One organization I often support on Giving Tuesday is the Waterloo-Wellington Science and Engineering Fair. This organization runs the regional science and engineering fair, provides awards to students, and supports student travel to the national competition. The fair will run online this year. Awards will still be presented.

At the university level, donors can direct their funds when they donate to the University of Waterloo. The Faculty of Engineering has recently announced a new Engineering Diversity Fund to support students who are underrepresented. This is one of several projects that funds can be directed to support within the Faculty of Engineering. Another popular project is the Engineer of the Future Fund which supports our students pursuing entrepreneurial activities. It is even possible to support funds that are not even listed on our donation form. For example, it is possible to donate to the Sandford Fleming Foundation via the Faculty of Engineering by indicating the fund name in the form. The Sandford Fleming Foundation fosters and creates enriched academic learning experiences for engineering students at the University of Waterloo by offering program activities that enhance engineering education on campus and across Canada. I currently serve as the Chair of the Sandford Fleming Foundation so I know the great work that the foundation supports.

Finally, I would like to make an important comment about the solicitation of donations. Often universities and other organizations are accused of being too aggressive with fundraising activities. After all, shouldn’t fees and taxes more than pay for an education, a hospital, and all of the other essential services needed by society. The fact is that donations are required to deliver the level of services we expect from our charitable organizations. When a university solicits donations from students, staff, faculty, and alumni, the university is not trying to guilt everyone to participate. Universities and other organizations recognize that many individuals may not have the means to provide donations. In fact, this is arguably why donations are solicited in the first place. It is important to recognize that there is no easy way for any organization to be able to tell who may be able to give. We encourage all individuals to ask for help when they need it. Shouldn’t universities, hospitals, and other charitable organizations do the same?

Make a difference if you can. Donate to a charitable organization today.