OTTAWA -- The impact on charities due to COVID-19 has been two-fold - most are seeing an increased need for the services that they provide, and less money coming in.

Leslie Scott of the Distress Centre of Ottawa and Region says, “One of our highest days, we were answering 49 percent higher increase in our calls."

Calls are answered 24-hours a day, seven-days a week by the Distress Centre.

“It really has hit our community hard, in the sense that they really need someone to talk to. It’s also hit our financial status a little harder as well, some of our donors obviously can’t make their donations right now.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the amount of money that comes in, but also how money is donated with the cancellation of the annual fundraising gala.

We just made the decision that this is not the year to hold our event. But again, that comes with financial recovery that needs to happen as well,” said Scott.

The loss in revenue for charities during the COVID-19 pandemic has already had a big impact. The Canadian Cancer Society is laying off 350 staff across Canada, including 15 in eastern Ontario.

In a statement provided to CTV News Ottawa, they write:

“The COVID-19 health crisis is having an unprecedented impact around the world, and for the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS), this pandemic is the greatest financial challenge we have faced in our 80-year history…we anticipate between an $80 million-$100 million drop in revenue this year alone.”

Michael Allen of the United Way East Ontario explains that charities will need to adapt their business models,

“Many organizations are going to have to re-think how they engage their donors and how they generate revenue from those engagements.”

Allen says that the United Way is adapting, and is hopeful that people will continue to give.

“The challenge for the charities themselves, will be how to meaningfully connect to those donors again, in the absence of what they have become familiar with - such as galas and other event based activities.”

Donations, which the Distress Centre of Ottawa and Region needs, says Scott

“We have volunteers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Our phone lines never close, and we’re always open to talk to anybody about anything that’s going on in their lives.”

If you need to talk to someone, you can call the Distress Centre of Ottawa and Region at 613-238-3311, or visit