Terri-Jane Yuzda

Education Foundation Fundraising is a Treacherous Endeavour


Education Foundation Columnist

Editor's Note: The APEGGA Education Foundation, which is separate and distinct from APEGGA, serves the professions by supporting the education and development of engineers, geologists and geophysicists, as well as those who might enter the three professions. It assembles and manages funds, builds endowments and encourages donations. The foundation distributes funds for scholarships and awards, and in support of special projects.

Several times during my terms in office, some APEGGA staff and Council members have expressed dissatisfaction with the APEGGA Education Foundation's lack of effort at fundraising. I must admit that it's an area that's also disappointed and frustrated me.

However, fundraising is not a simple or risk-free task for a charitable organization.
Fundraising efforts fall into two general categories: those that increase awareness, and those that bring revenue for the charitable work. The only two special events held on behalf of the foundation have fallen into the first category. These were dinners with keynote speakers, first the former federal cabinet minister, the Hon. John Crosbie, and then the former premier of Newfoundland, the Hon. Brian Tobin.

Both were meant to be second-category events - moneymakers - but they didn't turn out that way. Although honorariums were very modest (and in at least one case, donated back to the Foundation) the ticket sales didn't quite cover costs. APEGGA had to support these dinners, since the Foundation had virtually no resources at that time.

Many fundraising dinners fall into this category. A recent high profile dinner in Calgary featuring former New York mayor Rudy Giuliano turned out to be a break-even event.Some keynote speakers command a fee as high as $100,000 US, which requires a high ticket price and lots of ticket sales. Settling for less prominent speakers usually means less of a draw, so the result is still break-even or worse.
The foundation board has not seriously entertained other fundraising means, for various reasons. At present, the board has attempted to increase APEGGA member awareness through PEGG articles and inserts, and limited mail-outs.

One of APEGGA's strengths is a great diversity in membership, and in geographic location; we have members all across Alberta, in other provinces, and around the world. At the same time, this diversity creates a dilemma for the Foundation; it makes it more difficult to organize fundraising.

One popular fundraising activity of charities is to run casinos. I've heard of an organization raising $75,000 in this way. Casinos have become so popular that there is now a wait-list of two years to do one, and that is for organizations with a successful track record.

There are strict regulations for running a casino. Each one is a two-day event, with three shifts each day. Volunteers have to be named well in advance and substitutes are not accepted for most positions. The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission recommends that 40 volunteers be available for each event.

We have only about 15 foundation members to draw upon. To hold a casino in both Calgary and Edmonton, we would need membership of about 160!
And of course, there is the problem that some members are ethically or morally opposed to raising funds through gambling.

At least one credit card company provides another way to raise funds. The credit card company donates a small percentage of credit purchases to the charity designated. This may be worth further study.

An ideal way for us to raise funds would be to use the Internet. Nearly all our members are equipped and are very computer literate.

Perhaps we could stage a silent auction. Some of our members are skilled artists or artisans, and have a wide range of hobbies.

Maybe you can suggest some other campaign possibilities, using the Internet or otherwise, that would likely be successful.

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