Gurjot Gill | Toronto
It’s been a long time since members of Easters Seals Ontario (ESO) and workers were able to get together and host a fundraiser, but for the first time since before the COVID-19 pandemic shut the world down, they were able to host the Easter Drop Zone on October 2nd at the Choice Properties Reit building in downtown Toronto.
Easter Seals Ontario is a charity that raises funds to help children and youth with physical accessibility issues and provides them with essential equipment that helps make their daily lives easier.
The Drop Zone event is an event that involves members and volunteers who fundraise a minimum of $1500 and are able to rappel from a large building over 17 stories to the ground level.
This event has become a staple for the organization, but was cancelled last year due to the provincial COVID-19 restrictions.
The Drop Zone marks a new beginning for Easter Seals Ontario as the event was a success raising over $90,000.
Over 40 rappellers, were able to go down the building to celebrate their fundraising efforts to help children all across Ontario.
Sherryl D’mello, a donor and rappeller, says she was a bit nervous to go down but the building but knows it was for a great cause
“I think everybody deserves the chance to live a fulfilling and rewarding life,” says D’mello, “So this is a great thing that I came across and said hey, why not?”
ESO has gone through changes over the past 20 months. Financially, ESO reported losses of over 20% in 2020 in revenue due to the pandemic.
Everything went digital as all of their events and fundraisers switch to strictly being online.
This shift is more difficult as not only were events cancelled but they were trying to find new ways to find funding.
As ESO is an event-focused charity, the pandemic caused them to focus in other directions for their events. Donor retention became a primary focus for the organization as they were calling previous donors and letting them know the goal had not changed and the need for support was still there.
Lauren Squizzato, Development Manager for Easter Seals Ontario has been at the forefront of this change as she ushers in a new era for the company.
“It changed the way we work, ” Squizzato says, “We aren’t allowed in the office, everyone had started using different platforms to communicate which took time. All of our events were either stopped or postponed or went to some sort of virtual platform which I don’t think that many of us were comfortable necessarily with”
Imagine Canada, an organization that supports charities across Canada, says the majority of charities have transitioned online with over 50% of charities putting more emphasis on online programs.
Loss of donations and revenues were common among charities as they reported those losses during their transitions online.
With donations down across the board, because thousands of people in Ontario were suddenly out of work, or working more limited hours.
Squizzato notes that she is proud of what Easter Seals has accomplished in the past year not only with the Drop Zone event but also switching to online and creating stronger bonds with many of the donors.
Easter Seals is continuing their new run of events like the Celebrity Classic Hockey Series which gives people an opportunity to play with former NHL greats.
This event will continue into 2022 as they play games all across the province.