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2020 Gratitude ReportA year of change and resilience


  1. The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
  2. The ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.

*Oxford Languages

Our Mission

This past year has been particularly challenging for our Wellspring community, and yet what comes into focus is the buoyancy of the human spirit; the extraordinary bounds of our resiliency.

  • The resilience of our members who continue to reach out, connect and support each other, even as the fear and uncertainty of cancer was magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The resilience of our leadership team, staff, volunteers and program leaders, who remained fixed on our mission and quickly pivoted to an online environment, reaching and engaging more people living with cancer than ever before.
  • The resilience of our partners and collaborators, who leaned in to strengthen our relationships with one another, and banded together to deliver new programs in different ways.
  • And the resilience of our donors and funders whose altruism sustained Wellspring so we could continue to provide programs and services –ensuring no one has to face cancer alone.

Your support has meant those living with cancer – those diagnosed, caregivers and families – continue to access Wellspring’s vital programs amongst world wide disruption.

When speaking of change and resilience, I would be remiss to also mention change within Wellspring Calgary’s leadership team. When Patti Morris stepped down as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) this past December after 14 years of excellent service, our own Program Director, Sheena Clifford, stepped in as Acting CEO until a permanent replacement could be found.

I want to express my gratitude to both Patti and to Sheena for their excellent leadership and guidance, and I look forward to what Sheena will accomplish in her new Chief Operating Officer (COO) role. 

I also want to welcome Wellspring Calgary’s new CEO, Natalie Noble, who stepped into this role on June 1, 2021.    

We are now embarking on a new five-year 2021-2026 Strategic Plan. We invite you to view these new commitments, which includes focusing on: expanding our reach; diversity and inclusion; diversifying fundraising sources; HR sustainability; program excellence; improving data; and continued collaborations.

As we look forward and begin planning for the eventual re-opening of our centres, we know our online programs are here to stay because our members have deemed this method of program delivery as effective, convenient and essential. We are also preparing for the anticipated increase in demand for our services, as our health system catches up to cancer screenings and diagnoses that have gone unchecked.

Thanks to you, Wellspring Calgary and the individuals and families we serve, we will emerge from this year more resilient than ever.

Bill Gilliland
Chair, Wellspring Calgary

A word from Wellspring Calgary’s new CEO, Natalie Noble:

“I am deeply grateful and excited to join the Wellspring team in ensuring no one has to face cancer alone. The warm and welcoming community Wellspring and its volunteers have built is inspiring. The COVID-19 pandemic has been life altering for everyone and for those facing cancer, the compounded stress may be devastating. Wellspring has continued to provide essential support services to individuals and their loved ones facing cancer. I am eager to serve alongside such an incredible team in the next phase of growth in programming and services for Calgary and southern Alberta.” 

Our Vision

No one has to face cancer alone.

2020 Highlights

In 2020, Wellspring supported:
people living with cancer
200 volunteers put in:
volunteer hours
participants came from:
southern Alberta communities

In 2020, Wellspring Calgary undertook a project focused on improving the accuracy, quality, and accessibility of its data. This includes measures that accurately demonstrate our work and resonate with our donors and supporters. We provide past data for comparison where possible.

Reaching further

In 2020, more people joined from communities greater than 100km from Calgary than ever before.

Supporting more people than ever

Throughout 2020, we supported more people living with cancer than any other year. See our results in the chart above.

Cancer is not cancelled

20% fewer cancer diagnoses in Alberta[1]

This suggests 500 people/month are living with a cancer they don't know about[1]. Covid has disrupted cancer screening, diagnosis and treatment which will negatively affect cancer outcomes until the pandemic induced backlogs are cleared.

Our programming is member driven. Our members and the public we serve choose which programs they will take and how many times they take them. Our programming actively responds and adapts to the changing needs of our community. 

People living with cancer served by program pillar

People served by participant type

Members served by age range

In our 2020 program evaluation surveys**, Wellspring Calgary members agreed or strongly agreed that they:


found our programs beneficial


(online participants) would participate in online programs in the future


felt less isolated after participating at Wellspring Calgary


would recommend Wellspring Calgary to a friend

**Based on over 1,700 member responses.

2020 Finance
2020 Revenue
Event revenue & donations
Government assistance (COVID-19 grants)
Investment income
Donated securities
Recovery of expenses
Amortization of deferred contributions
Total Revenue
2020 Expenses
Total Expenses

In 2020, Wellspring Calgary was able to attract one-time COVID-19 related government grants, had reduced expenses because of our centres not being open, and had additional revenue from investment income.

Long-Term Sustainability

Recognizing that Wellspring Calgary may never receive any core government funding, the founding Board of Directors made the decision to establish a $1.6M John W. Stephure Tribute fund (the “Fund”) to ensure the long-term sustainability of Wellspring. Subsequently, Wellspring Calgary received $4.4M in ten-year gifts, which were designed for the same purpose but not part of the Fund.

As a result, we have moved an additional $1.25M into the Fund and $3.4M into an internally restricted Sustainability endowment fund (which previously had $600,000). This provides clear guidance as to how these ten-year gifts are to be managed.

Per Wellspring Calgary’s Investment policy, the over-riding philosophy, as directed by the Wellspring Calgary Board of Directors, is an interest in the preservation of capital and use of the Fund to support the long-term sustainability of Wellspring Calgary.

The investment income from the Fund can be used to: provide a source of predictable operating revenue; cover underfunded programs and services; contribute to capital replacement and repair; or contribute to capital expansion projects. 

2020 Milestones


Online Programs

Cancer is not cancelled. When the pandemic hit, the urgency to serve our community called for swift and strategic action. Within days of closing our centres, we answered the call by pivoting our delivery of programs and supports online and by phone.

We have seen the innumerable benefits of offering our programs and services online. Our members report immense satisfaction in joining our online community, stating benefits such as:

  • Easy access from the comforts of home
  • No need to travel, hence time and cost savings
  • Less energy required to attend – fatigue is a pervasive side effect of cancer
  • Increased program capacity – significantly more can fit in the virtual space
  • Sense of connection and community – paramount since COVID magnifies cancer isolation

As we look forward and plan for the reopening of our two centres, we know we will be maintaining our new permanent ‘Online House.’

Expanded Reach

In 2018, Wellspring conducted an environmental scan that unearthed a significant need for non-medical cancer support programs and services in southern Alberta communities. In response, Wellspring developed a three-year plan to expand our reach in rural and regional parts of the province by working collectively with communities to co-create sustainable cancer support from Red Deer to the Canadian border.

In 2020, we began to implement our three-year operational plan to expand our reach into southern Alberta, funded in part by Alberta Cancer Foundation. This expansion included launching an awareness campaign, increasing our relevance for those living across the southern half of the province, forging new relationships and collaborations, and co-creating two pilot programs. The temporary closure of our centres due to COVID-19 expedited our online programming, allowing us to serve more members from southern Alberta than ever before, and helped in our outreach to new health professionals and community partners.


New Collaborations

Collaborations and partnerships are key to all that Wellspring provides today, and all that we aspire to provide in the future. We plan and coordinate every new undertaking with the aim to maximize resources available to those we serve, while avoiding duplication of services.

To that end, we are both proud of and deeply grateful to our trusted partners who align with our vision and are equally committed to ensuring sustainable supports are available to those living with cancer for years to come.

This past year, to address the needs brought on by the pandemic, we experienced an increase in requests to collaborate with others and to do so in new and creative ways. Community partners who serve similar populations, reached out to Wellspring Calgary for our expertise in providing essential, non-clinical, evidence-informed programs and services in a cost-effective manner.

Thanks to the trust expressed by our health and community partner network, we are pleased to be collaborating on an array of new opportunities.

Thank you!

Thank you for your continued support of Wellspring Calgary!

You have provided stability for those living with cancer in a very unstable time in our history.

You have ensured the resiliency of Wellspring Calgary this past year, and for years to come.

Because of YouIn 2021 Wellspring Calgary will:

Expand services to reach more Albertans living with cancer including their caregivers and children

Prepare for increase in demand and distress as a result of delayed cancer diagnosis because of COVID-19

Provide comfort and connection by sustaining our virtual programs while also planning to reopen our centres

Reduce the demands on the healthcare system by assisting people to manage the emotional, physical and practical issues that cancer brings

[1] Source: Cancer Care Alberta, Cancer Strategic Clinical Network and in partnership with Primary Care: