Donations, volunteers and community support: these are the essential ingredients for any successful neighbourhood house.
“We don’t have the same fundraising resources as a large charity,” says Antonia Beck, Executive Director of the Burnaby Neighbourhood House operating 2 Neighbourhood House locations in Burnaby with the latest opening up its doors in 2014. “Our main purpose is to alleviate poverty and create access for people struggling with the day to day challenges which often include social isolation. This could be new immigrants, single moms and dads, or people who might be in a low place right now. We help them find that connection and open doors.”
The Burnaby Neighbourhood House “South House” is pleased to have a home in a purpose built facility in Metrotown. The new space was arranged through a density bonus arrangement with the City of Burnaby. Although the space is provided at a 50% discount off of the market rent it is expensive to operate and each year the Neighbourhood House must fundraise close to $100,000 to support its core operations and keep its doors open. Programs are operated with funding from provincial and federal government in addition to United Way and several other cooperate foundations in the form of grants. In addition, the not-for-profit charity hosts key fundraisers such as its annual Diamond Ball gala every February. The themed event includes an auction, dinner, show, and diamond draw.
Fundraising is key to keeping the doors open in South and now even more so at their new location in North where the organization is looking for space to relocate the North House as its current location is being developed in the Fall of 2016. “We pay special attention to make sure people find what they need at the Neighbourhood House,” says Beck. “We believe the House belongs to the community.”
Every year, the Diamond Ball gala seeks volunteers to help organize the event and business sponsors to provide financial support. In turn, the Neighbourhood House promotes its sponsors through advertising during the event and community referrals throughout the year.
Other fundraising includes an annual raffle whereby participants and supporters help to sell tickets. At the North House a committee of volunteers have committed to organizing an annual IQ event which is a foot race through the Burnaby Heights that provides a day of fun and community building while raising funds to operate the North House.
“As the Neighbourhood House does not receive any core funding, much of these funds go to basic operating costs and sustaining programs that are severely underfunded but very important supports within our community,” says Beck. “Our daycare operations are fee based program as we have professional staff working within them. We strive to offer quality care at an affordable rate. However, if there’s a family struggling to pay the fee, the funds we raise allow us to offer them an internal subsidy. This is very important for us to do as affordability is often a barrier to access.”