I have a confession to make … I’m uncomfortable asking people for money!  Imagine that coming from a 30 year veteran of the not-for-profit, fund-raising, charitable sector!  Besides public speaking, I’m convinced that asking people for a portion of their hard-earned disposable income is probably the second most difficult thing to do.  

But, while that may be true, someone has to do it.  And, speaking from experience, those that do can find some of life’s greatest rewards – the joy of knowing that you’ve made a difference in someone else’s life.

 I write this article in the aftermath of several recent and disturbing announcements of plant closures and layoffs that will directly affect the employees of those firms – as well as dozens of other individuals caught in the resultant ripple effect.  And … in my church on Sunday morning, I heard a personal testimonial from a man of faith whose family life had been affected by the decision of one local company to close its doors.  It was at that point that I felt compelled to begin this article – and to shout out – at least on paper – the importance of giving to support our neighbours and friends. 

Research shows that the number one reason why people don’t give – is because they aren’t asked.  A second reason is because they don’t believe that their gift will make a difference.

 I’m always conflicted to encourage people to share their charitable gifts in these tough economic times because I know that money is tight.  But it is at times like this when we need our donors the most … and when most donors respond. 

The announcement of the Union Gas and its employee gift on 2013 NOV 13 was a welcome addition to our annual fund-raising appeal – and it did take us to the half-way mark in this year’s campaign.   Thank goodness for Union Gas!  But … we still have another $1.1 Million to raise in order to reach our target. 

What that means is that we need the leadership of our local businesses and organizations to create an opportunity – NOW – for their employees to hear the United Way message and to set an example by making a pledge to this year’s appeal.  Many of our traditional donors will be challenged to support us this year … and that is why we need others to step up to the plate. 

 In light of recent news, we are asking those who can, to give until it feels good!  For those who are wondering what a “fair share” gift might be, I typically ask a prospective donor what he or she might give if each of the 25 funded agencies, programs and services came knocking on your door.  The United Way “fair share” giving guide that I was introduced to 30 years ago is still quite relevant today.  It equates to a coffee break each week – or 15 minutes pay.  For those who prefer simple math – I encourage each donor to consider a gift equivalent to $260; that’s $10 for each of the 25 charitable organizations and another $10 for new and emerging community needs.  And – spread out over the year through payroll deduction or preauthorized bank withdrawal – it’s just $5.00 per week.  $5.00 each week – or “$1.00 per day for United Way” – makes such a significant difference in the lives of the 33,000+ individuals our United Way family of agencies serves throughout Chatham-Kent – each and every year! 

There … I’ve done it!  I’ve just asked my readers for money!  Money to ensure that vital social service programs are there for those who need them – when they least expect it.

 To those of you who have already given to this year’s United Way campaign, please accept my heartfelt thanks.  To those who are still considering a contribution, please respond now with your pledge.  Call us at 519-354-0430 … go online to www.uwock.ca … or stop by and pay us a visit!  We’d love to say “thanks” in person!


Karen Kirkwood-Whyte

CEO/Executive Director