The speed at which the Rapid Relief Fund has taken off surprised even Robert Janus, a social-marketing expert with more than 25 years of experience in communications.
“What we’re doing was [just] an idea on Tuesday of last week,” said Janus, director of communications for the Victoria Foundation, one of the partners in the initiative, along with the Times Colonist and the Jawl family.
[Donate at rapidrelieffund.ca. More options below.]
The fundraising effort has raised more than $1.2 million since Saturday. The prospect of reaching the goal of $2 million in COVID-19 emergency relief is now clearly in view. Planning for the next phase of funding — to help groups with urgent community needs — has already begun.
“Our priority is ensuring that the money gets out the door,” Janus said. “We’ve done all the work on understanding the situation and talking to our partners, but at the same time, we’re working on the planning around the second million because we want to do things a little differently.”
The funding is being administered on an ongoing basis to charity partners so it won’t languish, Janus said. “It’s about getting it and getting it out to those who need it. That is being deployed now. It’s getting out there, and it’s working.”
Dealing with five charities representing 80 organizations during the first phase of funding gave the coalition of business and philanthropic partners the ability to expedite relief. The food-network alone involved 70 partners who deliver food to the community, Janus said.
A coalition of neighbourhood houses in the capital region received money to offset a variety of costs, ranging from safety supplies to daycare.
“One of the neighbourhood houses in Fernwood had to close its doors because it couldn’t find a way to keep staff and volunteers safe,” Janus said. “And they were providing child care for essential-care parents, such as nurses and doctors. We’re working hard to get facilities like that to stay open, because the ripple effect of [closing] is incredible.
“If they can’t provide child care for their children, are we talking about nurses not being able to work at this critical time? That is one weak link we can solve.”
In addition to the Coalition of Neighbourhood Houses Capital Region, the first round of funding is going to the Mustard Seed, the Stan Hagen Centre for Families, the Salvation Army Addiction & Rehabilitation Centre and the Food Share Network.
The next million will be dispersed with help from an advisory group, Janus said, in an effort to provide funding north of the Malahat.
“It’s fantastic to be able to do this,” Janus said. “But I’ll be really happy when we no longer have to.”
HOW TO DONATE
The minimum donation is $5. Tax receipts will be issued.
• Online: rapidrelieffund.ca
• Phone: 250-381-5532
• Mail: Send cheques to the Victoria Foundation at #200-703 Broughton St., Victoria, B.C., V8W 1E2
Please ensure cheques are made out to the Victoria Foundation. Note the ‘Rapid Relief Fund’ in the memo line or in a cover letter. If you are open to receiving your tax receipt by PDF, please include an email address with your donation.