As originally published in the Our Towns section of The State Journal-Register on Sunday, May 31, 2015.
Summer is in full swing, but for those of us at United Way summer is a busy time as we prepare for the 2015 campaign and organize the hundreds of volunteers needed to make it a success. This year’s campaign does not officially begin until our Kickoff Breakfast on September 9th. However, one short month from now our local agencies and eleven local employers will step forward to run their company campaigns early and set the pace for our community.
As the Director of Resource Development at United Way, I get to experience the wonderful work of our local volunteers and nonprofit community every day and the campaign offers an opportunity to share those experiences. As important, I get to share how individuals and organizations are working together to address the changing needs of our community.
For those who are familiar with United Way, you probably recognized that I am a relatively new employee of the organization. I joined United Way in May, following seven great years as a Donor Relations Consultant with the Central Illinois Community Blood Center. As a donor recruiter for the blood center, I came to understand the important role individuals, businesses and volunteers have in protecting services vital to the immediate and long-term needs of our community.
Even as the employee of another nonprofit, I understood the importance of United Way as the organization that listens to the community, rallies people, and leads organizations towards a greater common good. In fact, it was through CICBC leadership that I was first encouraged to become involved with United Way as a Loaned Executive, Community Fund Panel Member, and Days of Action volunteer. Now I get to use my experience and education in volunteer administration and nonprofit management to advance the common good. After all, we all win when a person succeeds in school and life, when a neighborhood turns around, when families have good health and workers have solid jobs.
We live in a wonderful community, but like any community we have challenges which we must face. Many of these challenges have always existed, and in one form or another will always exist. However, working together we can help provide the resources and supports needed to help families in need today and provide our children with the greatest opportunity for a brighter tomorrow.
United Way serves as the catalyst for change in our community, bringing together individuals, community leaders, schools, nonprofits, and businesses to address the most pressing needs in our area. We focus on protecting services vital to the immediate basic needs of families, while making long term investments in education, financial stability and health – the building blocks for a good quality of life. At the heart of United Way’s work is the community fund; a single fund, providing support to local services working together to address our most pressing needs.
United Way’s work is only made possible through your investment in our community. No matter how large or small, your gift makes a difference because it is combined with the gifts of thousands of individuals throughout our community. Moreover, because of the generosity of several local companies who underwrite the expenses associated with the Community Fund, 100% of every gift to the Community Fund stays local and every penny supports programs focused on Basic Needs, Education, Financial Stability and Health.
As we prepare for the upcoming campaign, I encourage everyone to visit United Way of Central Illinois’ website and learn more about their wonderful work in our community, the difference your investment in the community fund is making, and United Way’s commitment to transparency and financial accountability.
If you’re an area employer, I encourage you to learn more about running a company campaign. United Way of Central Illinois runs an open campaign, meaning employees can direct their gift to the Community Fund, any of our issue areas, or any IRS recognized 501(c)(3) charity in the United States. Of course, the Community Fund offers the most effective way to help our local nonprofits meet the many needs which exist in our area. There is no cost to employers, no pressure on employees, and volunteers from companies throughout the area help to organize the campaign.
To learn more about how your company can become more involved in efforts to encourage philanthropy and volunteerism, give us a call. After all, great things happen when we live united.
Jessica Becker is the Director of Resource Development at United Way of Central Illinois. Visit www.springfieldunitedway.org to learn more. Look for United Way columns weekly in Our Towns.