A fundraising slump with the United Way Lower Mainland is trickling down to some Burnaby non-profit agencies, now worried about finances.
The United Way, which relies on volunteer labour and donations, was roughly $1.5 million short of its fundraising goal last year, which means less money for local groups that rely on the organization for funding.
Burnaby Family Life, which offers a wide range of social service programs, typically relies on a patchwork of funding sources, including the United Way.
Burnaby Family Life was hoping to secure $50,000 from the United Way for programs that help families but received $18,000 less than expected.
"We decided to not cut any services, knowing we will go into deficit," said Katalin Camara, director of operations with Burnaby Family Life. "If we don't find matching funding, we have to cut services."
Antonia Beck, executive director of the South Burnaby Neighbourhood House, said her organization didn't get all of the United Way grants it applied for.
For example, the organization received funding to conduct outreach with seniors but no money to cover the seniors' welcoming committee.
"You can do all the outreach you want, but you need to be prepared to receive the seniors," she said. The neighbourhood house had to reduce staff to a "bare minimum" for that particular program.
"We're pretty worried," Beck said. "It's not just the United Way funding. There's just not as much money out there."
Beck said the work the United Way funds is very important for the community.
"If people don't support the United Way, they have to cut back somewhere," she said.
Michael McKnight, president and CEO of the United Way Lower Mainland, said no funding is ever guaranteed.
"Anytime you get a grant, you want it to continue forever, but that's not going to happen," he said. "There is less money out there in the philanthropic world. We've had to reduce the size of our grants."
McKnight said the United Way was hoping to raise $30.3 million last year but only gathered $28.8 million. McKnight said they have not met fundraising targets for the past couple of years.
"The way we fund organizations is through the money we raise. If we don't meet our target, we have to reduce that funding," he said.
McKnight cited a glum economy, the high cost of Vancouver living, the lack of salary increases and more charities vying for money as contributing factors.
"All of those things combined make fundraising more challenging," he said. "If I could snap my fingers and fund an infinite amount of money, - I would happily do that."