Lions Club looks to different way to raise funds

Community service clubs have had to adapt as the COVID-19 pandemic has cut-off traditional avenues to fundraising.

In the case of Yorkton Lions Club their main fundraising events have been events reliant on people being able to gather, the annual LobsterFest, Wine Festival and Spring Expo. All three were cancelled in 2020, and it's unclear if they will be able to restart this year.

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The result is a tightening of the budgetary belt for the club.

"We've had to make changes to our budget obviously," said local Lion Denny Vachon.

Vachon said the club still wants to help fund programs in the city, and have commitments made in terms of planned donations, but a year without a major fundraiser has hit hard.

"We're getting down to pennies in the coffer," he said.

The Lions Club hopes a new fundraising effort, a major 50/50 draw will help offset the lost revenues from the three big events.

Vachon said if the 50/50 initiative sells out by its late March draw date it could actually earn the club "much more than the three events (noted above)." He added with that in mind they are trying to emphasize the importance for members to help sell the 50/50 tickets.

"A lot of members hate selling tickets," he said, adding they like the camaraderie that comes with getting together to work on fundraising projects such as Spring Expo and LobsterFest.

"They like getting together and having some fun."

In fact, some members have pulled away from the club which has been meeting via Zoom rather than in person for several months now.

"They don't get to sit down and have a meal with everybody ... Some of them have taken a step back," said Vachon, adding the worry is post pandemic. "They may not return."

So while the 50/50 draw has the potential to be a very successful fundraiser, Vachon said he anticipates the club will always do events as well because it brings the club together.

But, for now they have to sell 50/50 tickets to refill the coffers. Tickets are $20 each, or three tickets for $50, 10 for $100 or 25 for $200.

So far the response has been encouraging, offered Vachon, noting a number of businesses that sponsored the previous fundraising events have purchased the $200 package.

"They're handing out the tickets to employees," he said, adding it's a great way to say thanks to staff.

The club did a promotion for sales at Christmas noting the tickets would be great stocking stuffers.

Similar promotions will include a Valentine's Day effort and a spring promotion prior to the March 20 draw.

If the draw sells out the winner will take home roughly $200,000 with the club earning the same amount.

"That would keep us going four, or five years," said Vachon.

Tickets are available online, via Facebook and from local Lions members.

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