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YMCA on pace to reach year-end fundraising goal

The YMCA in North Bay is taking positive steps towards reaching a fundraising milestone in order to keep its doors open.

YMCA Northeastern Ontario kicked off the My Y is Resilient campaign in September, with the goal of raising $1 million for each of the branches in North Bay and Sudbury. A checkpoint for the fundraiser is to raise $250,000 by the end of the calendar year.

As of October 30, the North Bay branch has raised just over $120,000 through received or committed donations.

“We’re well on our way to hitting our goal,” said Nicole Beattie, VP of Philanthropy, Marketing and Communications for the YMCA.

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“I think that North Bay has a really giving community,” Beattie continued. “There’s a lot of people who have enjoyed the YMCA programs and services and have seen how we’ve impacted the community in a positive way so I’m fairly optimistic that the major gifts will keep coming in.”

After months of being closed due to the pandemic, the YMCA reopened in September with increased cleaning measures and other protocols to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines.

At the beginning of the My Y is Resilient campaign, Beattie said about 68 percent of memberships had been retained from before the pandemic.

Since then, Beattie says the retention rate has dropped to 40 percent of the pre-pandemic numbers.

“I think that’s due to the climate right now. I think people are feeling a little uneasy about going out. I just want to reassure people that we’ve taken all the safety protocols very seriously and we have every safety measure in place and our staff are regularly cleaning the facility,” Beattie explained.

Beattie adds the goal of the My Y is Resilient campaign is not only to raise money but to also get people to come back to the YMCA.

“It’s one part fundraising and what we can do with this campaign, but it’s another part membership return rates. So, encouraging the community to come back to the Y and utilizing our services,” she said.

If the $250,000 benchmark is reached by the end of the year, Beattie says it will “extend the runway” for the facility to remain open for another two to three months while they can change their business model.

“There’s a financial scenario that will be up to our board to decipher the comfort level around how much debt they feel comfortable with the Y going into,” Beattie noted. “We know that come February, if we have to get into our line of credit and get into the red financially, the days will be limited in terms of how long we can stay open.”

Beattie also stresses that the YMCA would not normally be asking the public for help under ordinary circumstances.

“We want people to understand that the reason the Y is in the position it is in, is because of the closure from COVID,” she explained. “We want to be transparent with people because this is the reality that the Y could be in a position to not continue to deliver service as we know it today.”

And Beattie knows first-hand how important the YMCA is to some members of the community, with her family receiving financial support from the facility when she was a kid as her brother battled leukemia.

“The YMCA creates community connections and we need those community connections now with COVID than ever before. So I really want to make sure that our doors are open to bring people together again because that promotes mental wellbeing and health long-term,” she said.

To donate to the YMCA, click here.

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