Foun­da­tion to raise funds for Cancer Agency

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Fall­ing in line with the rest of Western Canada, Saskatchewan now has a foun­da­tion ded­i­cated to rais­ing funds for cancer care, pre­ven­tion, re­search and screen­ing in the prov­ince.The Cancer Foun­da­tion of Saskatchewan, launched on Wed­nes­day morn­ing, is an in­de­pen­dent, arms-length fundrais­ing part­ner of the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency.“Saskatchewan needs a cancer foun­da­tion be­cause … the agency has no­body that is reach­ing out to this prov­ince and get­ting peo­ple to co­or­di­nate their giv­ing,” said the foun­da­tion’s CEO, Nora Yeates at the launch event.While the cancer agency has al­ways ac­cepted do­na­tions, is­sued tax re­ceipts and man­aged their funds, it does not have the author­ity to ac­tively seek out do­na­tions.The new foun­da­tion can now do that on the agency’s be­half, a strat­egy Yeates is op­ti­mistic will mean more money raised for cancer care in Saskatchewan.“The cancer agency is leg­is­lated and man­dated to look af­ter the pa­tient,” said Yeates. “The cancer foun­da­tion … will work with the donor, stew­ard the donor dol­lars and en­sure that those dol­lars are put to the best use pos­si­ble for the work at the agency.”One-hun­dred per cent of the money raised by the foun­da­tion stays in Saskatchewan, and char­i­ta­ble tax re­ceipts will be is­sued to donors.Greg Ot­ten­breit, min­is­ter of ru­ral and re­mote health, spoke at the launch event, not only as a mem­ber of the Saskatchewan gov­ern­ment, but also as a per­son with first-hand ex­pe­ri­ence with cancer care in Saskatchewan.“We had per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence 20 years ago when our son was di­ag­nosed with cancer,” said Ot­ten­breit. “Then a cou­ple years ago I got di­ag­nosed with cancer my­self.”Through his fam­ily’s ex­pe­ri­ences, he said, he was able to get a good sense of how the sys­tem works and was im­pressed with the level of ser­vice and re­spon­sive­ness to pa­tients.Through talk­ing with other pa­tients about their ex­pe­ri­ence, he was able to see what’s be­ing done well and where the gaps are — gaps the foun­da­tion can hope­fully help fill.“To­day’s an­nounce­ment is some­thing that’s pretty close to our hearts,” said Ot­ten­breit. “My fam­ily has been a sup­porter of cancer re­search and cancer fundrais­ing for many, many years.”Af­ter his son Bray­den died in 2000, Ot­ten­breit and his fam­ily be­gan host­ing Bray­den Ot­ten­breit Close Cuts for Cancer in their home­town of York­ton.The fundraiser chal­lenges peo­ple to raise money for child­hood cancer re­search and then cut off their hair.Cur­rently, the foun­da­tion em­ploys five peo­ple — a num­ber Yeates hopes to grow in the com­ing years — and 13-mem­ber board of di­rec­tors based out of Saska­toon and Regina.Yeates said Year 1 costs of op­er­a­tion are high due to startup costs like build­ing a web­site, putting fi­nan­cial sys­tems in place and cre­at­ing a data­base.In the long term, she said, the ad­min­is­tra­tive costs will be below 35 cents for ev­ery dol­lar do­nated, as re­quired by the Canada Rev­enue Agency.The foun­da­tion has iden­ti­fied a num­ber of pri­or­i­ties and will be launch­ing a cam­paign in the spring, but Yeates could not re­veal those pri­or­i­ties at this time.With per­mis­sion from donors, the foun­da­tion has a list of peo­ple who have do­nated pre­vi­ously. The foun­da­tion will reach out to those for­mer donors and also try to cul­ti­vate new donors through so­cial me­dia and other means.“It’s go­ing to take a lot of work to get out in the com­mu­nity and let peo­ple know who we are,” said Yeates.

Nora Yeates, CEO of the newly formed Cancer Foun­da­tion of Saskatchewan, says the new or­ga­ni­za­tion is needed be­cause the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency does not have the author­ity to ac­tively seek out do­na­tions. The foun­da­tion will op­er­ate as an arms-length, in­de­pen­dent fundrais­ing part­ner to the agency.

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