A “tidal wave” of support for the WinFall Lottery was heartwarming, but likely not enough to pull the Peace Arch Hospital fundraising project out of the red.
Jackie Smith – executive director of the Peace Arch Hospital and Community Health Foundation – confirmed after sales closed Oct. 19 that less than two-thirds of the tickets were sold.
“We’re still counting,” she said. “We estimate that we’re going to be right around the 60 per cent mark, which honestly, is likely not enough to break even.”
The lottery has been one of the foundation’s key fundraisers for 16 years, generating more than $25 million for the cause since it launched. This year was the first time organizers had any indication the venture was at risk of losing money.
In an effort to turn the tide, Smith last week made a B.C.-wide appeal for ticket buyers, noting at the time that barely one-third of the lottery’s 223,750 tickets had been snapped up.
The appeal spurred an influx of 1,900 buyers over the weekend that followed, and led to the one of the lottery’s busiest final days of sales ever.
“Yesterday, we did 15 per cent of the increase in one day alone,” Smith said Thursday, noting she helped take orders at the Burnaby call centre in the final hours. “We nearly doubled ticket sales since our appeal. It’s truly been a phenomenal week.”
Those who purchased cited a range of reasons for doing so – from wanting to support the hospital to wanting in on the improved odds offered if the lottery didn’t sell out.
Smith said any financial loss that is determined will be covered by the foundation, with money generated through some of the organization’s other efforts, such as the parking lot it runs.
The expense will not impact donation revenue, nor will it short-change lottery winners, Smith assured. All prizes will be awarded, with the grand prize to be drawn Nov. 8.
Smith said the decision to appeal to the community was a difficult one, and it is “absolutely unfortunate” the goal couldn’t be met.
In the coming weeks, the final numbers will be tallied and the program analyzed to determine “how it all unfolded.”
“We’ll look at it in the context of the past 15 years, but we’ll also look at what it means for the next year, and look at the decision as to whether we return to the market with the WinFall Lottery.”