July 17, 2024

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Operation Eyesight’s ‘secret sauce’ – The Globe and Mail

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An Operation Eyesight Universal community health care worker teaches eye health in a village in West Bengal, India. Community health education is one way Operation Eyesight works to eliminate avoidable vision loss.Supplied

Long-term donors crucial to charity’s global eye health mission

By 2028, Operation Eyesight Universal, founded in Calgary, Alta., over 60 years ago, is aiming to declare 2,900 villages in South Asia and Africa avoidable blindness-free. But reaching that goal will require support from generous donors, says Myrna Linder, the international development organization’s director, Fund Development.

Ms. Linder says long-term donors who have supported Operation Eyesight for decades are the ‘secret sauce’ that enables the charity to continue its global eye health mission to prevent blindness and restore sight. The need is great as 1.1 billion people live with vision loss, and 90 per cent is preventable or treatable.

“Long-term donors support us by giving on a monthly or an annual basis. When they think about how they want their assets to be handled when they’re no longer with us, they often leave a legacy gift to support an organization that has been important to them,” says Ms. Linder.

Making a will and deciding how one’s assets will be distributed is an important task, says Ms. Linder.

“Everyone should make a will – it ensures you determine what happens with your assets, and this is not just for wealthy people. You can leave $100 or $1-million, and that’s your decision. A will puts you in the driver’s seat and enables you to maximize your capacity for giving, ensuring the government does not control your assets,” she says.

While most donors leave an unrestricted gift that supports the greatest needs of Operation Eyesight, some have specific areas they want to fund.

“Charities in Canada are fortunate that we live in a philanthropic society and people are generous. Our job is to share the myriad options,” she says, adding all bequests to Operation Eyesight help to transform lives through the gift of sight. “Donors can leave a gift in a will, or share stocks and annuities during their lifetime. Even leaving a small amount makes a difference – a cataract surgery in South Asia and Africa costs about $75, so every dollar counts.”

Operation Eyesight was founded by Calgary businessman Art Jenkyns, who was inspired by Dr. Ben Gullison, a physician who worked at a mission hospital in India. The charity partners with local health providers, hospitals and NGOs in South Asia and Africa to provide equal treatment to those with avoidable vision loss irrespective of their ability to pay, and to invest in capacity-building among local health staff.

Learn more: operationeyesight.com/legacy


Advertising feature produced by Randall Anthony Communications with the Association of Fundraising Professionals Canada. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.

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