Idle Canada Post trucks sit in a parking lot as rotating strikes continue. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz)

Postal strike affects charities at critical fundraising time

Canadian fundraising professionals and charities join call for fast resolution

With no resolution to the postal strike in sight after the Canadian Union of Postal Workers rejected a “time-limited” contract offer from Canada Post that expired Sunday, fundraising professionals are joining the call for the two sides to reach a negotiated settlement quickly.

“Direct mail continues to be the leading way that most donors give to charity. We are concerned that donors who typically give in the fall might receive their donation requests too late – or their donations will be received too late by the charity to help people this year,” said Scott Decksheimer, Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Canada board chair, speaking of the postal strikes rotating across Canada since Oct. 22.

RELATED: CUPW requests mediator as deadline for Canada Post offer expires without deal

The last quarter of the year is an important time for giving to charities. Past surveys from AFP have shown that many charities receive at least half of their total annual giving during the last three months of the year, with December being the most critical month.

“A postal delay or interruption seriously damages a charity’s ability to provide the critically needed services to the community,” said Decksheimer.

The Mustard Seed in Victoria sends out a call for support every December in a newsletter to 7,000 donors, and it receives 70 per cent of its annual fundraising dollars at that time of year due to donors giving before year-end.

“Our biggest concern is not getting the donations in time. It is nerve-wracking,” said Janiene Boice, director of Development for Mustard Seed. “I honour the postal workers and have no opinion on the strike, but we rely on mail donations. Our donations are down 23 per cent this month over this time last year. There is no guarantee it is because of the strike but we are concerned.”

RELATED: Canada Post no longer guarantees delivery times amid more rotating strikes

Victoria Foundation CEO Sandra Richardson said the Foundation is largely protected from strike repercussions as it has moved to paperless transactions with direct deposits; however, she feels for the smaller charities.

“We are all impacted, but perhaps not to the degree that smaller charities are that may not have the technology in place,” said Richardson.

Because of current and potential delays, charities ask donors to consider other ways to give, including via the phone, online or at the charity’s location.

“We always encourage donors to be pro-active in their giving, but the reality is that the delay will likely have a tremendous impact on the work that Canadian charities perform every day, especially if giving is postponed, or even worse, never occurs at all,” said Mike Geiger, president and CEO of AFP.

“While first and foremost we are hoping for a quick settlement at Canada Post, we are readying ideas to support charities in Canada if there is a complete stoppage.”

Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government could intervene in the strike if progress isn’t made soon in the talks, but did not say what action might be taken.


 

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