Momentum Building for Nonprofit Network

Representatives of the local non-profit community met this past Wednesday morning to discuss the formation of a local Chatham-Kent Non-Profit Network.

The meeting was a planned follow-up to an Ontario Non-Profit Network regional meeting hosted last November by the United Way of Chatham-Kent.

A small group of keeners from the charitable and non-profit sector came together to build a critical mass of support for those working – and volunteering – in what has also been referred to by a number of different names — the “social,” “third,” “voluntary” or “community benefit” sector of the community.

At the regional meeting in November, 55 participants were introduced to representatives of the Ontario Non-Profit Network – housed in Toronto – an organization established to serve non-profits across the province.

Our guests shared a profile of the nonprofit sector in Ontario – highlighting the fact that the sector has 46,000+ organizations and contributes over $50 billion in economic impact across the province.

The community non-profit sector, not including MUSH (municipalities, universities, schools and hospitals) employs 600,000 workers and represents 2.6% of Ontario’s GDP.

At the same meeting, an infographic was shared showcasing additional community non-profit sector statistics.

One interesting point noted in the information was the fact that – across Canada –the non-profit sector contributes more to the gross domestic product (GDP) than other key industries – including motor vehicle manufacturing, agriculture and accommodation and food services. The GDP is the value of all goods and services produced in Canada.

Locally, the non-profit sector is committed to strengthening people, jobs and infrastructure. Our sector staff work daily to support and strengthen communities through innovative and results-based initiatives.

We, too, pay taxes, purchase goods and services and contribute gifts of time, talent and money.

But more education is necessary to drive home the importance of the sector within which we work and the roles we play.

The purpose of this week’s session was to begin the mobilization of local non-profit sector representatives from health, social services, culture and recreation and environment – and to gather information which will highlight the value of the sector to community economic development.

Those present were unanimous in their support of a vehicle through which to find its collective voice and to educate others about the role and mandate of a sector which is devoted to changing lives and building community.

Initiated by United Way and supported through a grant from the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration, meeting participants for this inaugural meeting included staff and volunteers from Habitat for Humanity, Restorative Justice, Ridgetown Rejuvenation Association, Buxton Historical Site and Museum, Family Service Kent, New Beginnings/ABI, and Ursuline Sisters.

Attendees focused on the challenges and opportunities facing them in the sector, identified upcoming policy issues which would affect the sector and proposed action steps focused on enhancing collaboration across the various sectors.

A highlight of the morning’s gathering was the viewing of Dan Pallotta’s TEDTalk entitled “The way we think about charity is dead wrong!” – which has now received over 2.8 million views and is now the 46th most-viewed TEDTalk of all time.

An activist and fundraiser, Dan Pallotta calls out the double standard that drives our broken relationship to charities. Too many non-profits, he says, are rewarded for how little they spend – not for what they get done. In other words, the impact of their work.

Instead of “equating frugality with morality,” he asks us “to start rewarding charities for their big goals and big accomplishments.” In this bold talk, he says: “Let’s change the way we think about changing the world.” I encourage each of my readers to take 20 minutes to view this video and to share it with others. Together we can transform the way society thinks about charity and giving and change.

The small steering committee will be meeting again in late February to pursue plans for a number of initiatives to be undertaken – collectively – in the weeks and months ahead.

If you are interested in being part of the new Chatham-Kent Non-Profit Network, please send me an e-mail at and let me know. Good things are coming!


The public has spoken.  The 2013 United Way campaign has concluded and we have fallen short of our target of $2.2 Million – a number chosen to “close the gap” between what we were able to give our funded agencies in 2012 and what they needed to balance their budgets.

 While this is sad news indeed, there are always silver linings that can be found in storm clouds.  On the surface, it would appear that the usual explanations – a downed economy, competition from other charitable organizations and decisions to “go a different route this year” can provide a reasonable justification for this year’s result.  But internally, we believe that the major reason why we didn’t achieve the number we were going after, is because we didn’t do a good enough job of telling our story – a story about how lives are changed because of the contributions people make to our organization.  We tried.  We really did.  But perhaps we didn’t try hard enough.  With very limited resources, we targeted new companies to encourage their employees to give, we talked with our traditional corporate partners to ask for help in increasing employee participation, we provided “Seeing is Believing” Tours and excellent training sessions for campaign volunteers and employee workplace co-ordinators … and we tried to dispel myths and misconceptions about administration and fund-raising costs – also referred to as “overhead”. 

So what went wrong, you say?  We have to be honest.  Nobody loves it as much as we do.  Some people didn’t return our telephone calls.  Others said that they were going to help us – but didn’t follow through.  Others listened to naysayers, used what they heard as an excuse not to give – and took their support (or did they?) in another direction.  

Robert Kennedy once said, “One fifth of the people are against everything all of the time.”  We get that.  And we believe it.  We can prove it by the numbers.  

While we are disappointed with this year’s result, I want to acknowledge and express a heartfelt “thanks” to those who did support us this year.  We couldn’t have done it without you.  You know who you are.  So … “thanks” to those who maintained their level of support or increased their gifts.  Without you we would be even farther in the hole than we are. 

 But what about some of the people who were there for us last year – and I’m speaking specifically of those who are still working – in good paying jobs?  Where did you go?  Why did we lose you?  Will you tell us why?  So we can fix it for next year? 

So what happens now.  Well … the agencies we fund don’t have enough money to do the work they need to do.  Our fund-distribution volunteers will be reviewing the agency budgets in the next few weeks and deliberating on how much to give each of our family members.  I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes.  Some agencies will have to make tough decisions about reducing – or abandoning entirely – specific programs. Others may choose to invest more time in fund-raising to pick up the slack. Still others may choose to leave the United Way family and “go it alone”.  Abandoning specific programs leaves people without the services they need.  Hiring fund-raisers and/or redeploying existing staff from program delivery to revenue generation – creates further competition.  In addition to the foregoing, those that need the social safety net to cope with unemployment, mental health and addictions, poverty and family breakdown may have fewer choices available to them. 

So what can you do to help?  If you have been a donor to United Way in the past – please give again and consider an increase.  If you know someone who has a misconception about United Way, tell us so that we can clear it up.  If you are a traditional supporter to our cause, please tell others why you give – and encourage them to join you.  And you don’t need to wait until the kick-off of the 2014 United Way Campaign.  Please do it now!  People are waiting for you to care.

On a related note, I recently read Dan Pallotta’s newest book “Charity Case” and have shared excerpts from that book with our Board of Directors and Staff.  For those of you who haven’t read it, I encourage you to order a copy and take the time to read it.  It will change the way you think about charitable giving and give you some food for thought.  And … in the coming weeks and months, I’ll be sharing with you – through this medium – our plans for reintroducing a new United Way to our community – one that focuses on the important role that we in the humanitarian sector play in building community and achieving well-being for everyone in Chatham-Kent.


Karen Kirkwood-Whyte, CEO/Executive Director

Campaign achieves a total of $1,850,459

Boston Pizza hosted the United Way of Chatham-Kent Touchdown this afternoon and the 2013 Campaign Cabinet team revealed the 2013 total raised – $1,850,459. 

Cecily Coppola is the Volunteer Cabinet Co-Chair with William Grin. “When we set the goal in August 2013, we anticipated success with a number of opportunities and organizations that would help us reach the target. Unfortunately, we were unable to reach the total, and even fell behind what was raised in 2012.  While we are obviously disappointed with this result, we can share with all of you the warm welcome and active participation we did receive from across Chatham-Kent.  For this support and this result we are truly thankful. In fact, as we consider the amount raised this year, we all realize that there is still cause for celebration, and even pride.

 There are a tremendous number of individual donor gifts, corporate sponsorships, special event incomes and employee pledges that are represented in this total.  It is a total we are proud of, a total that so many volunteers, agency representatives and United Way staff have worked hard to make happen.  These dollars will help the United Way funded agencies continue to serve those in our community needing our help.”

 William Grin praised the 2013 Cabinet. “It would take hours and hours to thank the hundreds of people that worked to achieve these results.  Today we mention those in our Cabinet – tireless volunteers committing their energy, their time and yes, their dollars to help make this possible. Past Campaign Chairs are Stacey and Scott Ewing; in Chatham the Region was led by Lisa and Bruce McAllister; Cassandra Duquette in Tilbury; Carmen McGregor in North Chatham-Kent; in Blenheim Emily Robert; Ridgetown was Heather, Erin and Kristen Beecroft, Florin Marksteiner in Thamesville; Jodi Kish and Mavis Johnston in Bothwell.  Kelly O’Connor represented the Bushels of Hope Committee; Joe McCabe the Labour community; Brad Davis the Not-For-Profit Division and Ashley Church, our Sponsored Representative from Union Gas. We are in debt to these amazing volunteers”. 

– 30 –

2013 Campaign Goal        $2,200,000            2012 Campaign raised $2,045,843

2013 Total at Touchdown  $1,850,459


For more information on this year’s annual campaign please visit or contact William Grin (519) 352-9555, Cecily Coppola

CKXS Radio Hostage Event

Click here to support Jim Costello, Newt Richardson, Karen Debergh, Travis Hooper, Dennis DeBot at the 99.1 CKXS Radio Hostage Event. Each participant will be “hostage” at the radio station during the week of January 20 to January 24, 2014. 



Click here to support Jim.


Click here to support Newt.


Click here to support Karen.

Click here to support Travis.












Click here to support Dennis.