Community Capacity Building at its Finest
Red Deer & District Community Foundation and United Way of Central Alberta Team Up
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was felt keenly, deeply and quickly across all sectors of the community, and perhaps nowhere more than amongst community agencies. Non-for-profit organizations faced several obstacles, including sudden changes to their service delivery models, barriers to the regular fundraising mechanisms and avenues, and sharp increases in the need and demand for their services.
During the stressful and uncertain time, it made at most sense for the Red Deer & District Community Foundation, and the United Way of Central Alberta to work together to bring emergency relief funds to local agencies. Building on their nicely dovetailed organizational purposes – RDDCF focussing on “investing in projects, programs and organizations to build a stronger Central Alberta” and UWCA’s mission being “to improve lives and build engagement and mobilized collective action” – the two leaders, RDDCF Executive Director Erin Peden and UWCA CEO Brett Speight, put their heads together, rallied their teams, and created a quick and seamless application and adjudication process for community agencies to access emergency funds.
United Way of Central Alberta’s CEO, Brett Speight, believes that “both organizations are of the same mind and spirit with regard to meeting local needs through a local response to maximize local impact.” Brett and Erin “had the same idea at the same time,” he says. “We knew the community was hurting and that the demand for community support from our community agencies was quickly becoming huge. We both had the ability to quickly mobilize resources, and we had the mechanisms in place. We were able to be nimble and responsive to those needs.”
The Red Deer & District Community Foundation reallocated some of its grant monies and the United Way of Central Alberta pull the funds from its reserves, and also canvassed it’s corporate sponsors and donors, and both created independent local response funds. They then developed a unified application portal and cooperative adjudication panel and process. This made the application process easy and seamless, and the response times more expeditious. Community agencies were able to access much-needed grant support to recalibrate their service delivery and the community demand, all in a very short span of time.
Both organizations rely on community and corporate donations. However, says Brett Speight, “this was not about raising the profile of either organization. It was about meeting the needs of our vital community agencies so they could continue to effectively serve vulnerable populations in our community.”
Community Foundations Board Member Trish MacSween, who served on the joint grant review panel, says much credit for the swift action and effectiveness of the initiative goes to the two organizational leaders.
“Erin and Brett really got on board with each other and quickly sorted through how to do this together,” MacSween said. “Their ability to keep the need to get immediate assistance to community charities as the main focus made this a success.”
The Red Deer & District Community Foundation granted a total of $$58,843 in response to the immediate needs presented during the COVID-19 lockdown in this joint initiative.
Areas of need and the financial support provided by RDDCF:
Mental Health Supports: $2,000
At-Home Supports: $9,398
Basic Human Needs: $8,625
PPE/Adaptive Equipment: $18,820
Food Security: $20,000