‘Absolutely incredible’: United Way surpasses campaign goalWritten by Kristen Criswell | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Toledo-area community helped United Way of Greater Toledo surpass its 2010 campaign goal of $13.3 million, raising a total of $13,409,320.
“I would say without exception we had a very enthusiastic community that understood how important the work is that United Way is doing and how important it is to support that work,” said Sharon Speyer, campaign chairwoman and regional president of Huntington National Bank.
“These campaign results are absolutely incredible,” said Bill Kitson, president and CEO of United Way.
This year the community understood the need, but also wanted to know how they could make an impact and help, he added.
“We’re definitely to the point now where everyone knows someone who is impacted by the economic situation in our community. That creates an understanding about trying to help your neighbor and reach out a hand to them,” Kitson said. “I personally believe the campaign this year was so successful because people know someone who is going to get help from their gift and that’s important.”
Due to one-time grants and stimulus funding in 2009, United Way needed to raise more than $600,000 in new funds. The community met that need with more than a 6 percent increase in giving in 2010, Speyer said.
“When you’re dealing with a community that continues to have double-digit unemployment and increases its giving by 6 percent, I think it is a home run,” she said. “The community deserves accolades for that.”
Nearly half of the workplaces that participated in the campaign increased their giving, said Kim Sidwell, senior vice president of resource development at United Way.
“There was optimism this year. Companies were more excited about the campaigns they were running. There was more enthusiasm and creativity put into the campaign,” she said.
Some different fundraising strategies utilized by businesses were raffles for parking spaces and jeans days, Sidwell said. In addition, Owens Corning hosted an internal “American Idol” fundraiser where people paid to vote.
Companies that showed an increase in giving include The Lathrop Co. which had 100 percent of its employees participate in the campaign; Jones-Hamilton Company which increased its campaign for the 14 consecutive year; and Lucas Metropolitan Housing Authority, which doubled what it raised in 2009.
This year’s campaign also included an education challenge grant from BP-Husky Refining that was met quickly because people understand the value of education, Kitson said. Gifts given to United Way’s education initiative were matched dollar for dollar by BP-Husky Refining up to $25,000.
“The conversation changed from a Band-Aid approach of let’s try and help people get through tomorrow, to conversations about the broader issues the community is facing,” Kitson said. “Like in our education initiative. Kids need to graduate from school if they’re ever going to get great jobs and those jobs are going to produce great families. That’s a long-term strategy people understand.”
Money raised during the campaign will go toward programs that support United Way’s Agenda for Change, which includes a focus on education, income and health.
For more information, visit the website www.unitedwaytoledo.org.