|Five Days for the Homeless was founded at the University of Alberta’s School of Business in 2005. The students identified homelessness as a growing issue and wanted to give back to the community while at the same time changing the negative perception that business students are greedy and do not care about the community. The trio would give up creature comforts and basic necessities for five days to raise money and awareness for the Youth Emergency Shelter Society (YESS), a local charity.
There were no expectations in the first year; the event had a very grassroots feel to it and everything was done with little or no budget. They thought they might be able to raise $500 or $1,000 and they were fine with that. Overall the event was a success and by the end of the first year the trio had developed a new found respect for the disparity that homeless individuals face every day. Approximately $2,000 was raised for YESS, twice what was originally expected. An effective campaign was born.
The second year of the event was another success story. The original members of the campaign faced hectic schedules, an extremely busy workload and the campaign was in jeopardy. However, three weeks before the campaign a project manager was found and the planning process began. Despite the short time line the campaign was still able to build upon the success of the previous year. Professor Sandy Hilton, a chartered accountant and a professor at the School of Business saw the campaign and wanted to help.
He issued a challenge to his students that for every $500 they raised he would spend a night outside with the participants. The event also caught the spotlight from the local press as the participants were inundated with TV and newspaper interview requests. All these factors combined with the ability to accept online donations allowed the campaign to raise $5,031 dollars.
In 2007, the third year of the event, a full scale campaign was developed. A team of 11 individuals were gathered 2 months before the event and were given the challenge to bring the event to a new level. Two goals were developed; bring in support from the local businesses and host a wrap up concert to generate additional awareness and to generate additional monetary donations. In late February, the committee was able to secure National Bank Financial’s Angus Watt team to match all student donations up to $10,000 for a period of five years, for a total commitment of $50,000; an unparalleled commitment and a true milestone for the campaign. The campaign, armed with the matching donor, a wrap up concert, and a motivated team was able to raise $25,356 for the YESS.
During the 2008 campaign the team had thought extensively about expanding the Five Days for the Homeless project further than the community of Edmonton. After that year’s campaign, work began to realize a national level expansion. After extensive work and many tireless months, the Five Days for the Homeless National campaign was officially launched at ten universities across Canada. During the campaign, an enormous amount of awareness was raised and an astonishing $132,000 was contributed to homeless efforts across the country.
In 2009, seventeen schools participated and were able to raise $174,492 and unparalleled awareness. In 2010 the campaign reached new heights as the amount of participating schools increased to nineteen, raising a record-breaking $182,789 and national media exposure for the campaign. The campaign continues to grow with more schools participating each year, reaching a broader audience and making a bigger impact in communities across Canada.
In 2011, the campaign was held at 22 campuses across the country and broke records by raising over $220,000 nationwide and raised awareness for the issue of homelessness and youth at risk like never before.
To date we’ve raised over $1,212,000 since 2005!
We are currently in the planning stages for the 2014 campaign.