Equivalent Exchange

By Andrew McCutcheon

You can’t get something from nothing. That’s just a law of the universe.  

Put more scientifically, I suppose, you’d be talking about the first law of Thermodynamics: energy cannot be created or destroyed, merely change forms. 

But simply, it just means you can’t get something from nothing. There’s always an equivalent exchange. 

Kerby Centre and Unison have a lot of somethings on our plate. 

Rarely do I try to make a full list of all the somethings we do here, because it would probably take a full week and still end up missing a few. 

Active Aging, Seniors Supports, the Elder Abuse Shelter, the café, the Wellness Connection Centre, the Adult Day Program, Online Programming, Thrive Food Security: and that’s just the first few that come to mind.  

Nothing to be said of all the “support” somethings we do: Fund Development, facilities and maintenance, the Volunteer Department, and of course: Marketing, the folks for whom I work. 

And every something that we do doesn’t come from nowhere. You can’t get something from nothing: and that means money. 

It’s an unfortunate truth, but everything we do costs money. We are smart and strategic with every single dollar we get and stretch them to make the most, but when we talk about the Unison Kerby Centre, we have to talk about how we’re funded. 

Government funding and grants are a big part of things, but the folks I want to talk about today are a different sort: sponsors and donors. 

These are organizations and individuals, businesses of diverse sizes and missions, all of which have chosen us as the non-profit they want to work with. 

They donate their time and their big bucks so Kerby Centre can keep working on its mission to ensure seniors can live their lives full of wellness and dignity, long into the aging process. 

But they get something out of it too. Like I said: equivalent exchange. 

Sponsors are incredibly helpful. Whether it’s our Seniors Expo or one of our online presentations, sponsorship dollars are a great way for everyone to benefit. 

The sponsor gets their name out there, getting important information about health or wellness or safety to interested seniors; and the Kerby Centre gets additional funds to help make our mission happen. Equivalent exchange. 

Donors are a bit of a different story. They give out of the kindness of their hearts, and for diverse reasons. 

Maybe they have a passion for a particular social interest, like mental health. They see that Unison is committed to mental health well-being for seniors and want to support us. 

Maybe it’s more general: they were a long-time member or volunteer at the Centre, and in their retirement or bequeathment, they’ve left a gift that will keep their legacy living on long after they’re gone. 

Whatever the reason: they’ve chosen us because we’ve proved ourselves over the past 50 years, we’ve shown that what we do is vital to our community, and they want to be a part of it. 

But is there an exchange here? Many people would say no: that these gifts are done purely out of selflessness. 

I think both things can be true. 

They can be selfless, and there is an equivalent exchange. 

In exchange for their donations, they receive something precious. A world made better for those who need it most.  

What could possibly be worth more? 

If you’re interested in doing the same, please check out UnisonAlberta.com/Donate and know that no matter what level of donation you give, we will give back to our community in a way that will pay dividends for the health, happiness and justice of our older adults. 



Equivalent exchange – get something give something. 

Donors are the same way; they do it out of the kindness of their hearts, but they do get something back: they get peace of mind, a world made brighter. 

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