Foundation to raise funds for Cancer Agency
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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