Busting Myths about United Way

United Way’s annual fall campaign is in full swing – with many special events, employee workplace campaigns and other third-party fund-raisers focused on our target of $2.2 million. Earlier this week, I was privileged to be invited to a local workplace to enjoy a delicious breakfast, to respond to some “wicked” questions and to dispel some myths that have been circulating about our organization. Here are some of the questions and my responses …

Question: I heard that United Way’s administration costs are too high.

Answer: The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) applauds organizations with fund-raising expenses below 35%. United Way of Chatham-Kent spends less than 20% of its campaign revenue on fund-raising costs – AND includes administration costs in this same percentage calculation. This leaves over 80% of the funds available for charitable work. Our local United Way recently received accreditation from the Better Business Bureau of Western Ontario – and meets all 20 BBB Standards for Charity Accountability.

Question: I heard that the CEO/Executive Director makes a six-figure salary. Is this true? How are executive salaries set?

Answer: No one employed by United Way of Chatham-Kent is in the “Sunshine Club” – defined as those public sector employees who earn more than $100,000 per year. The governing body – the Board of Directors – sets salary ranges based on the size of the organization and similar roles in other not-for-profit organizations. Salaries in the not-for-profit sector are found to be currently, and traditionally, lower than those in the private and government sectors.

Question: Do employees of the United Way donate to United Way?

Answer: United Way staff members are the first to give in any annual campaign. They cannot ask others to give unless they have given themselves. In the 2013 Campaign, the United Way Staff Team donated in excess of $11,000 to this year’s fund-raising effort.

Question: Wouldn’t it be better to donate directly to the individual charities?

Answer: The United Way “system” is efficient and effective, accountable and transparent – for donors and grant recipients alike. Each time a recipient charity receives an individual gift, it incurs processing costs – which redirects precious time and talent away from the provision of services to people in need. When United Way handles the fund-raising and the processing for its agencies and other donor choice recipients, it saves significant dollars and helps organizations to keep their own overhead low.

Question: United Way doesn’t do anything for me. Why should I give?

Answer: United Way improves the lives of your family, friends and neighbours by helping to build a stronger, safer and more caring community. United Way provides you with an opportunity to give, to volunteer and to act for the betterment of the community where you live, work and play. Research shows that one dollar invested in prevention saves seven dollars – down the road – in treatment services. So … in a time when we have so little control over our taxes, mortgage payments, utility bills, etc., charitable contributions are still something that you can control. You can decide when to give, how much to give and to whom. Surveys demonstrate that contributors to charity are actually happier people!

Question: I would like to help volunteer for one of the agencies. How would I go about doing that?

Answer: Patricia Weiler, Manager of Volunteer Chatham-Kent is your convenient single point of contact for volunteer opportunities in Chatham-Kent. Please connect with Patricia at patricia@uwock.ca or call 519-354-0430 to arrange for a personal interview.

Question: If I was in need of some type of assistance, who would I call?

Answer: You can now call “211” – the three digit information and referral service provided free within Chatham-Kent. The database for this service is maintained by Patricia Weiler, United Way’s Manager, Volunteer and Information Services.

 

If you would like to ask a “wicked” question about your local United Way, please write to me at karen@uwock.ca.

Poverty Awareness Week Campaign; Prosperity Roundtable Celebrates Community

The free events welcome everyone to attend which will kick off with a Flag Raising Ceremony at the Civic Centre TUESDAY 2013 OCT 15 11:30AM followed by an open house at the Chatham Kent Public Library from Noon- 2PM. If transportation is a barrier to attending the event in your community, please contact Danielle@uwock.ca for complementary bus passes or NeighbourLink at 519-352-5647 to pre-arrange a ride. Other library open houses will take place Wednesday Oct 162013 11-1PM in Wheatley and Thursday Oct 17 at 5-7PM in Wallaceburg.

The Prosperity Roundtable is multi-sector community group dedicated to reducing poverty and building the capacity of the community to enhance quality of life for all citizens of Chatham Kent. Public Awareness and Education, a working group of the Prosperity Roundtable, together with community partners is offering open houses at local libraries which includes free food, swag bags, and raffle prizes.   

Prosperity Roundtable of Chatham Kent membership is representative of Chatham-Kent citizens, businesses and community organizations committed to reducing poverty in Chatham-Kent. Co-Ordinator of the Poverty Reduction Roundtable, Danielle Shaw states that “we work collaboratively to create a Chatham Kent that is truly a great place to live, work and play”. Shaw reminds us that “… we are all affected by poverty so it is up to all of us to take action”.  

Access to the Internet is essential for meaningful work, education and community life. This means that it is so important to have accessible use of computers and ongoing computer skills development for everyone in our community. “Chatham Kent Library is a FREE gateway to the many resources available through technology” noted Tania Sharp Manager of Public Services for Chatham Kent Public Library. This is why this years’ Awareness Campaign events are being held at selected Libraries across Chatham Kent.

For more information about the events or The Prosperity Roundtable of Chatham Kent see www.prosperityroundtable.com.  

United Way Chatham-Kent 2013 Goal of $2,200,000

At our Campaign Kick-Off event held this afternoon on Fourth Street in Chatham, United Way Chatham Kent Co-Chairs William Grin and Cecily Coppola gathered their 2013 Cabinet.  They were joined by community supporters, United Way staff, Pacesetter contributors and campaign volunteers to announce the goal for the 2013 Campaign at $2,200,000. 

In an earlier interview, Coppola commented on the 9% increase over last year’s total ($2,045,843).  “United Way Chatham-Kent has changed so much over the past fifteen years.  Their expanding role in effecting community impact and positive social change features a number of important programs and services offered in-house. As they have for 65 years, they continue to support locally, through the Community Fund, 25 Chatham-Kent programs, services and agencies. Together, these efforts touch the lives of one in three people in our community.  

Taken as a whole, that’s a lot of community connecting; a lot of community supports.  In order to ensure the needs of our Funded Agencies and Direct Service Programs are met, United Way is looking to close the gap in funding. In 2012, although we met our target, we were still $200,000 shy of the reported need.  This year we are going to do all we can to close that gap”. 

William Grin is a longtime supporter of United Way, having served for many years on the Board of Directors, the Fund Distribution team and the Cabinet.  “There is no doubt that this challenge – to close the gap in funding needs – is a challenge this generous community can easily understand and will be ready to help with.  Every dollar that is spent on programs and services for prevention of injury, prevention of hunger, prevention of depression and isolation will result in significant savings on treatment services.  Cecily and I have visited these agencies. They understand that by becoming involved earlier they can make lasting differences and positive changes.  We have seen the results and we know their work deserves all of our support.” 

Kick-Off Highlights

Municipal Greetings were offered by Councillor Derek Robertsen.

Pacesetter pledges were offered by William Grin, United Way’s Board and Staff, GreenField Ethanol and Union Gas, Chatham-Kent Amazing Racers and the Sydenham Challenge Dragon Boat Racers, Bushels of Hope supporters Lynn Girty and Leon LeClair, Scotiabank, the Canadian Hearing Society, The Solid Rock Café Youth Centre, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Chatham-Kent, Restorative Justice of Chatham-Kent, Family Service Kent, VON, and Chatham-Kent Block Parent Program. 

For information how YOU can participate as an individual, as a volunteer or with your company or organization please contact Cecily Coppola at Cecily@rjck.org (519) 380-0931 ext. 11 or William Grin at (519) 352-9555.  Visit our new and improved website at uwock.ca or email us info@uwock.ca

NEW FORMAT FOR “OPERATION COVER-UP” PROGRAM

 

Launched in 1986 and after 27 years of service to the community’s most vulnerable citizens, the United Way of Chatham-Kent has revamped its signature “Operation Cover-Up” Program to provide a better opportunity for recipients to receive warm winter coats. 

Working with its traditional partners – Chatham-Kent Professional Fire Fighters Association, Chatham-Kent Police Services, Maycourt Club, The Salvation Army, the numerous local dry cleaners … and in consultation with the Prosperity Roundtable … United Way will launch the 2013 program during Prosperity Awareness Week which begins Monday, 2013 OCT 14.  (Details about other events to be held during Prosperity Awareness Week will be announced shortly!) 

This year’s Collection Period – for those individuals wishing to donate coats – will run from Tuesday, 2013 OCT 01 to Tuesday, 2013 OCT 15.  Donors can drop off their gently worn winter coats – especially kids coats and plus sizes, please – to dry-cleaning locations throughout Chatham-Kent (as posted on the attached flyer). 

The Distribution Period – traditionally administered over a four-day period in mid-October – will be extended to nine weeks commencing Tuesday, 2013 OCT 15 and ending Saturday, 2013 DEC 14.  Coats will no longer be distributed from St. Andrews United Church but available at all Salvation Army Thrift Store locations in Chatham, Ridgetown and Wallaceburg plus the Salvation Army Food Bank housed at Blenheim Baptist Church and United Way’s West Chatham-Kent Outreach Office – the Tilbury Information and HELP Centre.  New printed coupons will be provided throughout the network of social services and efforts will be made by program partners to ensure that appropriate sizes are made available at the various distribution locations. 

“This new format will hopefully address a number of issues raised, over the years, by our recipients,” said Karen Kirkwood-Whyte, United Way’s CEO.  “Firstly, we are extending the distribution period from four days to nine weeks to give our families more time to secure a warm winter coat and moving the distribution location from one location to five in order to address issues related to transportation and family schedules.  With any change like this, there will likely be other challenges in trying to accommodate the needs throughout Chatham-Kent.  Our partners are committed to doing their best to protect the dignity of those we serve.” 

This community impact program addresses needs within the following three focus areas, recently adopted by United Way as part of its strategic planning process: From Poverty to Possibility, Strong Communities and All That Kids Can Be. 

For additional information, please contact Volunteer Good Neighbours Program Co-Ordinators, Kathy Martel or Correen Morris at 519-354-0430 or e-mail United Way CEO, Karen Kirkwood-Whyte at karen@uwock.ca

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