A message from the Chief Operating Officer and Chair of the Corporate Oversight Committee
In any given year, United Way East Ontario must balance taking care of our communities with our organization’s financial health—priorities that rely on each other to be successful.
COVID-19 brought incredible uncertainty for all charities, due to an economic downfall and the very real prospect of fewer philanthropic dollars available to invest in our work. At the same time, we stepped up to play a critical role in responding to the pandemic, which meant demand for our services quickly outpaced the resources we had available.
In the early months of the pandemic, we made the decision to keep our full staff cohort and maintain our investment levels to keep our organization nimble and our communities strong. We are grateful to have benefitted from government resources like the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), and the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) to ensure United Way could carry out our mission in the face of the greatest public health crisis of our time. Taking care of our staff enabled us to take care of our communities.
We started our new fiscal year less than one month into the pandemic. At that point, we did not know if the donors and partners we relied on would have the means to support our work. But we pushed forward, knowing thousands of people were relying on us.
Despite all the challenges, our communities showed immense generosity over the past year.
Many donors went above and beyond their usual contributions, and we also secured new funding sources, like the Emergency Community Support Fund and New Horizons for Seniors Program—proactively put in place by the federal government as emergency assistance for Canadians. As a result, we ended our 2020-2021 fiscal year with significantly more resources than we anticipated. This means we are well-positioned for 2021-2022 to strengthen the capacity of the local charitable sector and make substantial impact in our communities.
We can also plan for and invest in the modernization of our organization. COVID-19 forced United Way and many other charities to be creative and resourceful to keep our virtual doors open over the past year. Now we can be more intentional about keeping pace with a digital-first workforce and fundraising climate, while responding to the challenges amplified by COVID-19.
The pandemic is not over, and our economic future is still unpredictable. But our strong financial circumstances mean United Way can continue to be here for the people who need us, now and over the long term.
Ed Wolkowycki, CMA, CPA
Vice President, Corporate Services and Chief Operating Officer
United Way East Ontario
Thom Donnelly, CFP
Treasurer and Chair, Corporate Oversight Committee
United Way East Ontario