As employers encourage workers to return to the office after two years of working from home, one national non-profit made the decision to go completely virtual with its office and largest fundraising event.
During the two years of the pandemic, all the offices for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society closed and staff worked remotely. That included the staff for the Atlantic region chapter of the society, which had an office in Icon Bay at 50 Bedford Highway. Fallon Jones, who joined the society as the director of the Atlantic region in May this year, said the original goal was always to return to working in office.
“We quickly realized that by maintaining a flexible, remote work for staff and closing down those brick-and-mortar offices, we were able to further reduce those overhead costs,” Jones said.
There are nine staff members who work with the Atlantic region chapter of the society. The society’s other offices across the country went virtual, too, although the society maintains a space for its national office in Ontario. Jones added that staff can still connect with people in the community, even though they work remotely.
“I think staff appreciated the flexibility in terms of their work schedules,” Jones said. “We still have maintained efficient work and have been able to reach our goals from a remote workspace. We felt it just made sense to continue because it worked for us.”
Besides closing down its offices, the society also took its largest fundraising event, Light the Night, digital, too. The annual walk takes place in communities across Canada, but with COVID-19, the society took the event online in what it’s calling a “digital-first model.” Fundraising continued as normal at the society but the in-person walks were cancelled. This year’s event is virtual and will take place October 22. In the meantime, a team of producers visited and filmed all of the former walk locations for kick-off events. The event in Halifax took place last Saturday. All the footage from those events will be put together as a broadcast for the event in October.
“Although revenues may have been slightly down, the overall investment into research and support programs that we were able to contribute was significantly higher than in years before because we didn’t have those costly event expenses,” Jones said.
“With this adapting our digital future, we’re able to make this event more accessible, more equitable, and inclusive and overall reduce the costs and maximize the dollars going to research and community programs.”
Taking Light the Night online reduced the society’s overhead costs by 42%. Now the society is using those savings and directing them to community and research services. From those savings, the society is making its largest research investment of more than $4 million, the largest spending on research in the society’s 67-year history. Forty-one researchers across Canada will get a research grant from the society.
One of those researchers is Dr. Robin Urquhart at Dalhousie University, who received a “quality of life” research grant from the society. Her work aims to improve care for young survivors of blood cancers as they transition to one or more health care providers for follow-up care. According to a press release from the society, for Urquhart’s project, a team of patient partners, physicians, and researchers will work together to help define what represents the successful transition of care among young blood cancer survivors. The results of this work will be used to improve not only their care, but also the outcomes of their care.
In Canada, there are approximately 155,593 people in Canada living with or in remission from one of the 137 types of blood cancers and their related disorders.