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#YQL Mission Sidewalk

Apparently this old adage holds true in Lethbridge as Statistics Canada reports Lethbridge has the second highest per capita giving in the country ($620 per person). If you’re like me, your first thought is “Wow, that’s great” and your second thought is, with eyebrows raised unless you’re fresh from your Botox appointment, “Wow, really?” This prompted me to conduct an informal, non-scientific survey of my office mates. When asked about their giving, they told me the first thing they think of is how much money they donate. The second thing was time. In our discussions we realized this was somewhat ironic as they felt they gave more time than money. This led me to wonder just how much volunteering goes on in Lethbridge. Looking for an easy answer, I Googled the Volunteer Lethbridge site and discovered 82 of their 133 member agencies reported having 20,471 volunteers completing 503,083 volunteer hours in 2017. Putting this in perspective I realized that if I volunteered as an individual for seven hours a day and five days a week, I would have to work 14,286 weeks or 275 years to achieve the same result. There is obviously power in the collective effort of volunteers in our community.

Drifting back to the monetary piece, I quickly searched how many Lethbridge charities were registered with the Canada Revenue Agency. I was somewhat surprised to learn the number was only 389. In order to reach its annual reported giving level of $52,390,000 people are obviously giving generously in other ways. Rather than satisfy my curiosity, this raised more questions.

What is prompting the good folks in Lethbridge to donate more than half a million hours and 52 million dollars? A call to the southern Alberta chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) provided me with some insight. AFP members Brandie Lea and Joyanne Mitchell believe Lethbridge has a culture of giving, be that of their time, treasure, or talent. Technology has changed the face of fundraising from the traditional door-to-door canvasser by introducing tools such as text-to-give, Go-Fund Me pages, and online donation clearing houses like ImagineCanada.ca and CanadaHelps.org. The fundamental that remains, however, it is the relationship between the organization and the donor that matters most. In some cases this is a deliberate approach to giving and in others it is an emotional response to a heartfelt appeal.
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"It is the relationship

between the organization

and the donor that matters most."



The flip side of giving is receiving and don’t we all receive a bit of pleasure when we give? Lethbridge has clearly demonstrated a willingness to help their neighbour and a permanent reminder of our kindness and generosity is now emblazoned in blue and gold on the 3 Avenue South and Scenic Drive crosswalk. Canada was the first country to formally recognize those who give and celebrates National Philanthropy Day on November 15. A city-wide message of thanks takes place from November 12-17 with activities that include a community foundation luncheon and events to recognize donors, volunteers, leaders, corporations and others engaged in philanthropy. These are feel-good events for both givers and receivers and I hope you get to participate in some way, even if it’s just walking the crosswalk and reflecting on how fortunate we are to live in a generous and caring city like Lethbridge.
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