As a charitable organization that was simply begun by a group of passionate individuals, we often get questions from our community regarding where donations of money and manpower are going towards. At the end of the 2014-2015 fiscal year, we sought to be able to provide these answers to our valued supporters. So, we analyzed where money was spent in the previous year, and what it was going towards in order to move our cause forward. As with any non-profit, generating clarity around what exactly our money is spent on is important to us and those who support us.
As an UnderstandUs supporter, you have probably noticed our gear around the city on other like-minded individuals. Having this merchandise being visible on influential people in the community is an important part of our initiative, as it plays a vital role in eliminating the negative stigma surrounding mental health barriers. When you see someone wearing our clothing, we hope that it helps create a positive dialogue around the issue, and helps to create a supportive environment for those who feel like they are alone.
“Oh wow, that guy is wearing an UnderstandUs shirt. That is very neat and nice. But, what is UnderstandUs? Understand What? I’m overwhelmed with curiosity right now. Possibly, I will go ask this individual where they got the shirt and learn a little more about the organization.” Boom!, before you know it, you got yourself a new best friend and you have shared your support for mental health.
With that being said, creating this merchandise is where most of our funds have gone in the last year (35.9%). Having this clothing around the city was one of UnderstandUs’s first initiatives, and we’re only diversifying the ways we aim to support the mental health cause moving forward!
Initiating on line campaigns regarding eliminating the stigma surrounding mental health was the other big undertaking UnderstandUs took on this past year. Partnering with St. Matthew elementary school, we have launched both the Vulnerable is Beautiful campaign and the Share Your Recipe campaign. The costs associated with having these campaigns took up 28.7% of our funds this year. The Vulnerable is Beautiful campaign asked students to share their vulnerabilities with each other openly in a supportive environment, allowing them to see that these vulnerabilities are what made them unique as individuals. The Share Your Recipe campaign sought to provide an opportunity for everyone to share the healthy, positive ways they deal with stress, anxiety or any other negative emotions in their lives. We are very proud of the success of both campaigns, and are grateful for the partnership of St. Matthew school and all other groups that supported us along the way.
Next, we have events (12.9%), charitable donations (10.8%) and educational materials (7.2%). UnderstandUs held a Share Your Recipe fundraiser dinner in partnership with Sprout Catering on April 24th. We also have attended many events throughout the year in order to establish our community presence, such as the Pop the Stigma campaign at the University of Regina for their Mental Health Awareness Week, Regina Folk festival, Bazaart, Summer Invasion, Dragon boat festival and many more. We aim to provide positive mental health awareness and educational materials at all the events we attend to provide information to our supporters, and costs are required to have these events and materials created.
We have worked with many schools throughout the last year. We have been a part of health fairs at Riffel and O’neill high school as well as running mental health curriculum support at both St Matthew and Campbell Collegiate. We have presented to over 15 schools in the past year and provided educational resources to all of them. We provide educational talks and materials to children at their most impressionable age in hopes that it gives them tools at an early age to cope with the potential stress of mental health barriers.
Lastly, we have all the boring, but necessary stuff associated with running a charitable foundation, like legal fees (3.6%) and administration (1.0%).
As an entirely volunteer-ran organization, it is important for our supporters to know that none of our money goes towards wages for our UnderstandUs team. As our vision states, we are just a group of passionate individuals looking to improve the health and wellbeing of those with mental health barriers. As with any non-profit, transparency is very important; UnderstandUs is no exception.