Caring Circle Responds to BIM Council and Grants Committee

Hello Mayor and Council,
(cc to: Granting Committee of Council)

The Caring Circle Board would like to thank Mayor Murray Skeels, and Councillors Gary Ander, Melanie Mason and Maureen Nicholson for their willingness to talk to us regarding Council’s decision to amend the funding recommendation from the Granting Committee of Council. This decision resulted in reducing the Granting Committee’s recommendation to award Caring Circle a $23,000 Community Grant to $13,000.

It was hard for our Board to understand how the process, which was developed by the Granting Committee of Council to make these difficult granting decisions more objective, could be over-ruled so quickly, without consultation with the Granting Committee or clarification from our Board. To have our request for funding so summarily altered was confusing especially as there seemed to be so many unanswered questions from Council. As well, we were disturbed by being the only organization whose suggested funding was reduced by Council and reallocated to other organizations.

After our meeting with Councillor Nicholson, she sent the Board some suggestions with regard to our operations and how we might become more financially sustainable in the future. We are grateful to Councillor Nicolson as we found it insightful to review our work in view of her suggestions.

In talking to other Councillors, we learned that they are also concerned about some of the same issues. In order to promote further understanding of Caring Circle’s role in the Community, we would like to address Councilor Nicholson’s suggestions as follows:

1) How to improve “the public perception and awareness of (our) services”:
Over the past three years these are some of the ways we have communicated with our community in an effort to make them aware of our activities:

a) distributed our Bowen Island Health Resource Guide (printed booklet) free of charge to everyone on the island which included information about our organization, our contacts and website address.

b) distributed Island-wide our “Emergency Form” (without charge), which was also given to the Ambulance staff to give out to any homes they visit; this also included our contact information.

c) created a website that is specifically designed for easy access for seniors and those who might not be computer literate. We have had 15,000 sessions by 12,000 users, totalling almost 45,000 page views: 50% of those visitors were in the past year.

d) posted regularly on the Phorum with a link to our website about all our programs (see our application for details on our many programs and services.) We also have a sign on Trunk Road indicating our location.

e) published a full-page article in the Undercurrent this January which delineated all of our accomplishments in the past year. We also have a binder full of articles that were printed in the Undercurrent and posted on our website and forwarded to those people who have registered to receive our blog posts.

f) During our yearly “refundables” fundraiser at BIRD we uniquely post on the wall our organization’s name, mission and vision statements, as well as the names of all the volunteers who are assisting us in this effort. We have received kudos from the recycling staff for being so transparent for those who like to know who they’re donating their refundables to.

g) recently submitted an article in the local “Bulletin” flyer that was distributed Island-wide informing the Community about what we do and stories about who we serve.

h) at our most recent Strategic Planning Retreat in April ’16, we wrote a new Communication Plan, which will include regular submissions of “Caring Circle Stories” to local media outlets.

i) connected with the people who have received our services the past three years: those who asked for support (over 1000), those who attended luncheons (more than 1100 luncheons served), those who received help with depression (over 40), and the many who participated in educational lectures and clinics.

2) How “to continue efforts to diversify our funding sources”:

Since our inception we have been persistent in reaching out and meeting with a variety of the departments of Vancouver Coastal Health for sources of funding. Although they are enthused about our contributions to the health of Bowen, and have joined us in delivering health-related programs, they consistently state that they are not in a position to fund our work. We have also engaged our MLA Jordan Sturdy to help us advocate for funding from VCH. His staff attended the last meeting with VCH to help us in our pursuit of financial support.

As a new organization, we have raised, in addition to funds received from the Municipality, $119,232 from Federal and Provincial agencies, local fundraising efforts and through private donations.

We have also been the beneficiaries of more than $65,000.00 in in-kind donations, including pro-bono work from health professionals and the donation of computers and printers (and not including the generous donation from BIM for the use of the Heritage Cottage).

We do ask for donations from those who receive our services or attend our programs.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

We have planned a meeting with the Dr. Peter Aids Foundation philanthropy officer in Vancouver who will be helping us explore other funding options.

3) Revisit our “eligibility for charitable status”:

We vigorously applied for charitable status (with advice from a number of experts in the field) but we were turned down on a number of points, in particular that CRA does not give resource centres CRA status due to the fact that they disseminate materials produced by other educational bodies. We have created some “locally developed educational materials” including our Resource Guide, our Emergency Form, and our Driver’s Manual, but most of the information we distribute both in hard copy and online is written by other health and social service organizations and that makes us ineligible for CRA status. The interesting thing about CRA status criteria is that despite the fact that some of what you do might be considered “charitable”, every aspect of your work has to fall under their definition of what is “charitable”. And information centres/resource centres are not charitable according to them. We never give up when it comes to fundraising and will continue to try to find ways to achieve CRA status. We have learned that many organizations in Canada have had their charitable status disallowed. The process of achieving status is now a much more complicated process and more difficult to achieve than formerly. Interestingly not having CRA status has not deterred any of our generous donors from supporting our work.

4) “Investigate the logistics of crowd funding”:

Our Board has researched the possibility of crowd funding and after careful consideration, does not believe that this is a viable means of acquiring core funding. We invited an expert in this area of fundraising to a lengthy meeting to explore this idea and we were advised that this would not be an appropriate method of fundraising, especially in this small community. Historically crowd funding is used for one-off expenses or capital expenditures, such as disaster relief, playground equipment, etc., but not operating expenses.
5) “ Liaise with Christine Walker regarding the Vancouver Coastal Health Partnership Agreement”:
As soon as we heard about the partnership agreement we did contact Christine Walker and had a long conversation about the implications of this agreement with regard to Caring Circle. We will continue to connect with Christine on any issues that are health related on Bowen.

6) “Revisit the questions of whether (we) maximized the benefit of seed money received last year”, “What could we do differently?” and could we become “more intentional and clear about our purpose and less reactive to emergent interests?”
Regarding “what could we do differently?”

Our Community is already underserved with regard to access to health services and as you know from the most recent health survey results, there is a high level of fear, anxiety and frustration around lack of access to health care. What we could do differently if we had the funding would be to provide more services to more community members and spend less time engrossed in fundraising efforts.

In examining our overall operations and expenditures it is clear that we have run an extremely efficient organization with its working volunteer Board and Health Advisory Committee and with the help of over 100 volunteers. Could Caring Circle do more with less money or cut back on operational hours? Our Program Director already works 18 hours a week at the Resource Centre and donates another 12 hours in order to fulfill necessary work demands. At our Annual Retreat and throughout the year, we continue to examine how we should apportion our available resources.

During the May 9th Community Granting meeting of Council, several issues were raised by Councillors in regard to Caring Circle. We wanted to offer a further perspective to some of the topics discussed by Council.

7) “The funding for Caring Circle was for the most part to cover staff salaries”.
The other major recipients of Community Grants also use the bulk of their grants to cover salaries. The amount of salaries as a percentage of these organizations staff salaries is very similar to Caring Circle’s.

8) “The potential of the Community Paramedicine Program coming to Bowen Island in 2017 should reduce the work of Caring Circle”.

The Paramedicine Program will train and employ Paramedics to visit vulnerable Islanders in their homes and do some primary care interventions, such as checking medications and doing vital signs. Caring Circle does not nor does it ever intend to do any kind of direct care of clients on Bowen. Hopefully there will come a time when we have enough physicians, paramedics and other practitioners supporting patients in need so that Caring Circle will not be as critical a service as it is now. But for the time being we are filling many of the gaps that we have now in the Community.

Thank you for hearing our concerns. We consider that Caring Circle is an invaluable contributor to improving the health and well-being of citizens of Bowen Island. We feel we are an active and necessary participant in the Municipality’s Mission “to enhance the small, friendly, caring character of the community”.


Maureen Witney
On behalf of the Caring Circle Board