ESTEVAN - The United Way Estevan has long been known locally for the tremendous support it receives through its annual telethon.
Now the organization has attained a first: it was tops in Canada for per capita fundraising in 2020, according to information recently provided to the local United Way’s board.
The audited financial statements for 2020 showed the United Way had $387,237 in donations, with $347,711 coming during the annual telethon. The United Way also received $183,531 through special projects revenue from different organizations, including the South Saskatchewan Community Foundation and the federal government’s Emergency Community Support Fund, to help families in the Estevan area during the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
All of that money was distributed to people in need in the region.
Other United Ways in Canada also received support from the feds.
On a per capita basis, the United Way Estevan received $50.57, for total revenues of $570,768.
Melanie Graham, who was the president of the United Way Estevan in 2020, said that it was great to see all that the United Way Estevan was able to do with the support it received.
Estevan’s status as No. 1 in Canada for per capita support is something people in the community should be proud of.
“We come together and always do the best we can, and when times are even more difficult, people just step up to the plate,” said Graham, who has been on the United Way board in 2014.
People have been generous with their time and talent, in addition to their donations, Graham said.
“They know that they’re going to help out,” said Graham.
The United Way’s theme for 2020 was “United We Stand,” and she believes the giving echoed loudly in a year filled with uncertainty.
Danny Ewen, who is the president for 2021, said he was surprised when he found out Estevan was leading the country for per capita support.
“It’s not a shock, because we’ve known for a long time that Estevan and the surrounding area has always been one of the best in Canada for giving, despite our small size. Proportionally, we are one of the best in Canada,” Ewen told the Mercury.
With all of the uncertainty and unknowns in 2020, and concerns about donations, the support was “really heartwarming,” Ewen said.
The United Way has known about the community’s generosity for many years, and this is a chance to brag to the entire country about how great the Estevan area is.
Estevan has typically rated in the top five or 10 for per capita fundraising, and finishing first is a special feeling.
Ewen said the United Way tries to set an aggressive goal that the community can match, so that the member agencies and community impact projects can complete the necessary tasks in the community.
“When we set an aggressive goal, and not only is it beaten, but it is exceeded by $10,000, $20,000 or $50,000 or more, the great thing about that is our allocations committee gets to go back and give more money to our member agencies and community impact projects,” said Ewen.