SHARING FAIRLY – THE UNITED WAY

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

Letter to the Editor from the Board of Directors

We, as residents of Chatham-Kent and members of the United Way Board of Directors, would like to respond to the Letter to the Editor from Frank DeBresser which appeared last week in the Wallaceburg Courier Press and Chatham This Week. 

We would like to put to rest any myths and/or misconceptions about United Way’s charitable investments in Chatham-Kent.

As members of the governing body and donors to this local registered charitable organization, we are responsible for oversight of the charity’s policies and procedures. We set the strategic direction for the organization in fulfillment of the organization’s mission, approve the management budget and establish salary ranges and benefits for all United Way staff members.

 Our Human Resources and Compensation Committee ensures that our CEO’s salary and benefits are comparable to United Ways of similar size and to other local individuals who do similar work in our community. 

While the actual salaries of our United Way employees are a personal matter, we can unequivocally say that no employee of United Way of Chatham-Kent earns a salary in excess of $100,000.  We pay a modest amount (.75% of our announced campaign achievement) to our National Office for the use of the United Way name, logo and research support. 100% of the dollars raised in Chatham-Kent (except for donor-directed gifts) stay in Chatham-Kent. No charitable dollars raised in our local communities are forwarded to pay the salary of Mr. Brian Gallagher who currently serves as CEO of United Way Worldwide – the world’s largest ($5.2 Billion) privately funded non-profit organization. 

Negative comments and dissemination of incorrect information about our organization – in the midst of our annual fund-raising campaign – have the potential to discourage those who are undecided about whether to give – and sway traditional donors to question their ongoing support.  This is disturbing – particularly in view of the fact that our community’s most vulnerable citizens are in critical need of the human and social services provided by the members of our family of agencies. 

United Way of Chatham-Kent spent 17.5% of the announced campaign achievement in 2012 on local management and fund-raising costs – a substantial amount below the 35% referenced as acceptable by the Canada Revenue Agency. We believe that the more important question for Mr. DeBresser to be asking is “What does United Way do with my charitable gifts?”

 Our United Way began a new role in 1997, transforming from traditional fund-raiser to community impact organization.  Simply put, it is our objective to bring the business, government and voluntary sectors of our communities together to achieve well-being for everyone in Chatham-Kent. 

This is our new community impact work.  Our organization’s staff have been instrumental in the establishment of numerous local organizations and initiatives – including, but not limited to, the Chatham-Kent Children’s Safety Village, Operation Red Nose (now Home James), Operation Cover-Up, BackPacks for Kids, NeighbourLink, Habitat for Humanity, Women’s Leadership Council, Prosperity Roundtable and 211.  Our staff have assisted community partners in the writing of successful grant applications focused on poverty reduction, drug awareness, neighbourhood revitalization, youth engagement and community mobilization for crime prevention.  In addition, they serve on a number of local planning bodies and committees – many outside of “company time” and are passionate advocates for the public benefit – or voluntary – sector. 

Because of our large geographic area, we have established outreach, store-front offices in both Wallaceburg and Tilbury.  “The 425”- United Way’s Centre for Community Innovation on McNaughton Avenue in Chatham is home to several other local charitable organizations, nonprofits and government-funded initiatives – offering shared human, financial and physical services – generating significant cost savings for these entities.

 As stewards of the public purse, we trust that the above information will allay any fears that traditional and prospective donors may have about the wise investment of charitable gifts entrusted to our care.  And in order to demonstrate our transparency and accountability, we invite any additional questions that this response may elicit. 

Please give generously to this year’s United Way Campaign.  We cannot build community without you!

 President:  Tony Walsh

Vice-President:  Alison Patrick

Treasurer:  Julie Faas

 

Directors:  Deb Crawford, Kate DoForno, Scott Ewing, Mike Korpan, Florin Marksteiner, Jeff McFadden, John Neville, Dipti Patel, Marlee Robinson, Kathy Smyth.

 

Campaign Heading Into Second Half

Volunteers across Chatham-Kent met today with United Way staff to determine the “state of the campaign”.  Since the Kick-Off on Thursday September 12, 2013 individuals and organizations have pledged and donated $1,202,448 about 50% of the goal. 

Ashley Church is a Campaign Representative sponsored by Union Gas to help with the campaign until mid- December.  “I am excited to be a part of the United Way team and very thankful to Union Gas for this opportunity. Our community is very generous and the Cabinet team is totally committed to raising the additional one million dollars we need.  The money raised in Chatham-Kent stays in Chatham-Kent and that is the number one reason many donors choose to give. 

Donors have so many ways they can help.  Payroll deduction in workplace campaigns make it easy to give generously.  United Way volunteers are also organizing a number of special events and it would be great to have those events well attended.  We are also selling 50/50 raffle tickets.  If they are all sold another $25,000 will be added to the Community Fund.  

One of the easiest ways to help is to donate on-line.  The site is secure and private and the donation will generate an instant tax receipt. Whatever way you choose to help, we need to work together to reach our objective. Together we can continue to ‘help people’. And that’s really what it is all about. I would like to encourage all residents to go a bit out of their comfort zones to raise dollars for this campaign.  

As owner of Ashley Church Photography, I spent Saturday with families taking fall pictures. It was important for me to go above and beyond for United Way – just as I am asking all of you to do.  I am proud to donate 100% of the proceeds ($1,000) to United Way’s Women’s Leadership Council.  Giving back is incredibility important to me as I have seen first-hand the need by our agencies and the amazing work they do.  Now, it’s your turn to help.”

 

Touchdown January 24, 2014

          2013 Campaign Goal        $2,200,000

          Achieved to Date             $1,202,448

Thank you to RBC!

On Friday, 2013 NOV 22 RBC Financial Group presented their corporate gift to United Way of $7,000.  Pictured from left to right are Christopher June, Branch Manager at Keil Drive RBC, Julia Lozon, Hearing Care Councellor with the Canadian Hearing Society – one of United Way’s Funded Agencies, Bruce McAllister, 2013 Chatham Campaign Co-Chair and Judy Serruys, Branch Manager at King Street RBC.  Sincere thanks for the ongoing support.