The Fort Macleod Kids First Family Centre recently received good news for itself — and its supporters.
The Canada Revenue Agency granted Kids First charitable status, which means the group can issue a tax receipt for any donation.
Kids First director Susan Simpson is optimistic charitable status will lead to more donations from the community.
“Since I have been with Kids First Family Centre, I have had quite a number of businesses and community members express the fact that they would more likely donate to us if we were able to issue a tax receipt for their donation,” Simpson said.
Kids First operates food programs at W.A. Day, G.R. Davis and F.P. Walshe schools in Fort Macleod.
The volunteer organization also runs programs such as the Good Food Box, the Triple P Parent program and offers recreation subsidies to children from low income homes.
Registered charity status will reward those local groups and organizations that support Kids First.
“People like to help our most vulnerable,” Simpson said. “They feel good about supporting programs that will enhance the health and development of children and youth. They also seem to be confident in our organization’s transparency and the fact that we hold ourselves to a high standard of accountability. I have had people tell me that they particularly appreciate the fact that we partner with other groups regularly to reduce overlap and conserve resources.”
Fifty-five per cent of Kids First funding comes from grants from Parent Link, Alberta Human Rights, Citizenship and Multiculturalism and Fort Macleod Family and Community Support Services.
Another 20 per cent comes from corporate donations from groups such as Breakfast Clubs of Canada, Canadian Tire Jumpstart and TransAlta.
The Piikani Nation and Blood Tribe chip in five per cent of Kids First’s funding.
Simpson said the remaining 20 per cent comes from participant payments to the Good Food Box program and donations from local businesses, community groups and individuals.
“A good portion of our funding comes from local businesses, service groups and individual community members,” Simpson noted. “As grants become more and more difficult to secure, we really need to appeal to the generous nature of the citizens of Fort Macleod. Since I have lived here, I have seen our community continuously step up to meet the needs of others and I am proud to be part of a town that is so caring.”
Fund-raising is an ongoing challenge for Kids First, which can use charitable status as an effective tool to encourage donations.
“We have found that with greater need, and therefore increased competition, from communities across Alberta, the challenge seems to be in securing grants sufficient to fund our basic programs,” Simpson explained. “For this reason, in the last year we have put more emphasis on securing corporate funding and have actually found community groups to be even more generous than they ever have been. ”
One Kids First program that could use financial support immediately is the school lunch program.
“We make bagged lunches for students who need them in both W.A. Day and G.R. Davis and provide food for lunches at Outreach Central as part of a life-skills exercise,” Simpson explained. “In addition, we are always in need of funding for program advertising, materials and supplies.”