Archive for the ‘Giving’ Category

Baking For a Cause

June 23rd, 2010
Blake with a basket of goodies!

Blake with a basket of goodies!

By Patty Belden

Imagine my delight when I read on Facebook that my 13-year-old niece, Blake, was planning a bake sale to benefit the animals affected by the April oil spill. Since a very young age, she has been interested in helping others so I wasn’t surprised, but I was very impressed. I couldn’t wait to learn more. After talking with her, I learned that she came up with the idea and planned everything all on her own! She knew she couldn’t travel down to the coast to help, so she planned to do something locally. She decided that raising money was the best thing she could do to help. She loves to bake (and makes GREAT treats!) so choosing to hold a bake sale was easy. She recruited the help of her friend Zach and they got to work.<

Blake researched organizations online and chose to raise money for the Audubon Nature Institute. She found contact information and sent an email. They responded and gave Blake all the information she needed to hold her fundraiser.

Next step, pick a date and location and start marketing. They chose to set up shop near a baseball field on a Saturday when games were being played all day (good thinking!). She and Zach made posters and hung them all around the area. They even used social media marketing and posted information on Facebook!

The day of the sale they were ready! But to their surprise they weren’t getting much business. They knew they needed a new plan. They loaded their baskets went through the stands. Business started picking up! It still wasn’t quite enough so their effort went one step further – they went into the neighborhood. They went door-to-door until all of the baked goods were sold out!

Overall, they made $132.00 to send to the Audubon Nature Institute. They had such a good time with the bake sale that they decided to make this a summer-long effort. Zach is working on creating a website where they can advertise all of their upcoming events.

I’m so proud of my niece and her friend. They found something they believed in and took action. When I asked Blake why she was doing this, she answered,

I saw one picture of the animals covered in oil. It made me really upset to think that hundreds of animals are being covered in oil. I decided that I didn’t want to be one of those people that just say ‘oh, that’s sad,’ and then move on with my life. I wanted to do something about it.

What a great example of LIVING UNITED. Do you know other young people who are Living United in our community? Share your stories in the comments!<

Way to go Blake! You are an inspiration to us all!

Table of homemade sweets! Yum! Blake, Zach, and Sister

Events, General, Giving, Volunteering , , , , , ,

Dunder Mifflin runs a United Way campaign. What about your office?

June 21st, 2010

By Kelly Hutchinson, Donor Relationship Manager

This post is all about the United Way campaign in Scranton that Dunder Mifflin hosts to benefit United Way. That would be the Lackawanna County United Way in case you were wondering.  When the folks give at The Office they are helping advance the common good and create opportunities for a better life for all.


And just why would I share a post with you about the Dunder Mifflin campaign you ask?  Well I will tell you.  It’s because they do such a great job with their campaign at The Office that they are even an award winning company!


I promise I don’t make this stuff up. Look on the wall next time you watch and perhaps by the copier and just maybe you will see it there too. It is the Dunder Mifflin Extraordinary Campaign award from United Way.  Yep, that’s right the good folks at The Office care about their community and their neighbors and they are all part of the change they want to see in their community. 


My guess is that Dwight Schrutte used to organize the campaign. I think that this year Pam Beesly will be appointed by Michael Scott the CEO to serve as the campaign coordinator for The Office.  Michael sees great leadership potential in Pam and knows that she could do a great job making plans and working with the United Way staff.  Pam will love her new role and enjoyed making friends and meeting other coordinators in the community who run campaigns for their workplace.  


Pam will do her part each fall to organize an efficient and fun campaign that offers all her co-workers the chance to give, advocate and volunteer. They all feel proud of the award on the wall and the fact that when they each do their part that they can make a big difference in Scranton.


Some of the associates at The Office will help Pam with the campaign by planning fun events to celebrate their campaign and thank their donors. Dwight said that Meredith  likes supporting the campaign because it helps so many organizations. They all find that having their United Way campaign at The Office provides for a team-building experience.


So now I want to know just a couple things. Seriously for a moment please….The Office hosts a United Way campaign –does your company?  If your answer is ‘no’ then I don’t want it to be because you were never asked. If you don’t have a campaign and you want your company to be in good company alongside community corporate leaders at companies of all sizes like UPS, GE, Humana, Kroger, Atlas Machine or Deco Paper then let us help you get on board. It’s easy, fun and efficient. We would welcome the chance to start a relationship with you where together we can accomplish more than any one organization can alone.



Please join us this year. We all win in our local community when children succeed in school, families are financially stable and people enjoy good health. We want YOU and your company to join us this year and be part of the community campaign.


If you do have a campaign for Metro United Way, then I of course want to say ‘thank you’ for caring and sharing. You make it all happen here. You make our home town a stronger, better place to live and work. Even in the face of challenging economic times you and your company have made it a priority to help people in crisis now with basic needs support while taking on issues that are going to make our community stronger in the future. A heartfelt thanks to you and your office!

General, Giving, Volunteering , , , ,

Promises, Promises, Promises!

June 3rd, 2010

by Gil Betz

“… I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep…” Robert Frost, Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening

Promises are very important statements. A promise is a commitment by someone to do or not do something. Promises come in many forms-  affirmations, vows, oaths and the all too familiar “election promises.”

Reflect in your own life about promises. My kids would “promise” to clean their rooms, or get their homework done or wash their hair. And I have promised many times to take out the garbage. Some promises I made years ago, I have kept. Some promises I have not kept. There is great satisfaction when I know I have kept my promise.

I subscribe to the Agitator. The Agitator is a daily blog discussing funding strategies and trends for nonprofit organizations. What follows is an article from the May 12th 2010 edition of the Agitator. The article is about the importance and value nonprofits can accrue by making “promises” and keeping them.

Go ahead, make a commitment!

That’s the advice of David Kravinchuk at the FLA Group, a Canadian fundraising consultancy.

David argues that few donors these days give out of a sense of duty or obligation or blind trust, as older generations did.

Today’s donors want to see results. If you want their contributions, your nonprofit must promise — then deliver — some kind of results.

And so that leads to David’s advice:

  1. When you solicit a gift, promise a specific return on the donor’s investment.
  2. When you thank the donor for the gift, re-commit to delivering on the promise.
  3. Finally, show the ROI being delivered in as many ways as you can. In your newsletters. On your web site. With email messages. In your next appeal (before you ask again).

He adds: “Promises that are kept build trust, just as they do in your own friend and family relationships. Trust is the first step to loyalty. And in today’s charitable economy, loyalty is the key to your charity’s financial ROI.”

That’s pretty sound advice.

Sure, you can’t promise to cure cancer or end global warming in 90 days. But what can you promise that would represent progress? That you can deliver upon. That signals your willingness to be held accountable for how effectively you will use your donor’s contribution.

What promise is your nonprofit able and willing to make?

So what promise is Metro United Way able and willing to make and keep?

Here are some promises that one of our staff members provided when asked that question:

  • We promise to use your donation effectively and efficiently.
  • We promise to make your investment go further than any other non-profit can by bringing in over $50 million in resources to our community, investing in 50 programs and services that touch 300,000 people in our community, connecting 60,000 individuals to find the help they need through 2-1-1, feeding 150,000 hungry people, engaging 10,000 volunteers, and advocating for public policies that have a positive impact in providing a better life for all.
  • We promise, by 2018, to make sure that all the children in our community arrive in kindergarten ready to succeed AND to improve our community’s high school graduation rate from 73% to 87%.

Now it is your turn. Please respond to this post by suggesting promises you believe Metro United Way should make and keep.

Education, General, Giving , , , ,

The story of giving

May 31st, 2010

By Angela Champion

250px-statue_of_liberty_nyAs I write this blog, I realize I have a hard time finding my voice. As a fundraiser, I like seeing results and love to cross things off a list. As our team of staff and volunteers are gearing up this time of year to run the 2010 Campaign for the community, the slate is clean. We are working every angle now to realize growth in giving for the fall and the coming year. We are hopeful and single-minded.  However, I don’t day to day always see the thousands of ways people are improving their lives through the work that is done with those funds. But I know the need is real.

As I have been watching the History Channel’s new series, America: The Story of Us, I have been inspired as to what the American people accomplish – sometimes a few do great things but many times it’s hundreds of people contributing to an ultimate goal.

The most inspiring example for me is of how the Statue of Liberty was funded and erected to be where and what it is today: a symbol of hope and freedom. When France gave the United States the statue in 1885, it was in 350 pieces and there was no pedestal or funding for completing this massive engineering and architectural project of enormous meaning.

Joseph Pulitzer, owner of The New York World, stepped up and issued a call to action for people to give what they could to fund the effort.  Pulitzer found his voice and urged others to take part however they could – many sent in pennies, nickels and dimes.  The final sum amounted to $101,091 ($2,380,980 in today’s dollars), and over 120,000 people had donated. These figures are a testament to the masses of people who gave what they could, and to the persistence of Joseph Pulitzer.

A poem by Emma Lazarus won a contest in the newspaper and has adorned the pedestal ever since.

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses
yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your
teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed,
to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

— Emma Lazarus, 1883, written to help raise funds for construction of the pedestal.

During this fall’s campaign, I hope you will find your voice through giving, advocating and volunteering. If you don’t know where to start, please ask someone at Metro United Way. If you have a poem that you think would inspire us to give and give some ideas to why helping others is important, please share!

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Who Can You Count on When Times Are Tough?

May 20th, 2010

By John Nevitt

We’ve all faced difficult circumstances in our lives at one time or another for ourselves or our loved ones – perhaps it was the loss of a close friend or family member, facing a severe financial hardship, dealing with chemical dependency, living with an illness or disability, or countless other types of circumstances. Though the details are as different as each one of us, there are many common thoughts and emotions that frequently surface such as – what am I going to do, who can I turn to for help, how will I keep everything together? In difficult times, we all need someone we can count on.

I always know who my true friends are when such situations arise because they are the ones who stand beside me and offer support. Good friends transcend the circumstances of everyday life. However, when experts are needed, it’s good to know that there are caring professionals just a phone call away – Metro United Way’s network of health and human service organizations.

Though I had been a donor to Metro United Way for many years, I hadn’t thought I would be a part of the two-in-three people in our regional community who access Metro United Way supported services in my lifetime.

However, in recent years, I have been the beneficiary of these compassionate agencies and programs on several occasions, with each interaction bringing home their value in no uncertain terms.

Several years ago, when my mom began showing signs of progressive dementia, I turned to GuardiaCare Services for guidance. Not only did I get a list of personal care and housing options to consider, I also had the support of an empathetic professional who, through her exceptional listening skills, understood what I was thinking, how I was feeling, and what I needed, in addition to the pertinent and timely information that was given to me. In short, I felt like I was treated as a whole person, not just as someone who had a specific need to be fulfilled.

Each year, MUW funds over 80 organizations and 150 programs, like Guardia Care Services, which provides a variety of services for fragile seniors and others. When times get tough, it’s good to know that we have a vital network of Metro United Way participating agencies that give us the guidance we need while tending to us as whole persons. I salute the staff of our participating agencies and programs who so capably represent the caring power of our community.<

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Lessons from Warren Buffett

May 4th, 2010

By: Angie Ditsler

This week, my husband and I had the incredible opportunity to travel to Omaha, Nebraska to meet Warren Buffett. We were guests at a special event hosted by one of Mr. Buffett’s companies. Prior to leaving on the trip we were given a copy of one of Mr. Buffett’s books and told to come prepared to ask him any questions we had. I assumed there would be hundreds of people at this event, and at most, we could maybe get a good seat in an auditorium during one of his talks. I couldn’t have been more wrong! In fact, it was a very intimate setting at a local country club. Mr. Buffett arrived early and mingled with the guests before dinner, signed some autographs, and snapped pictures with the attendees. During dinner, he traveled from table to table and discussed every topic under the sun from politics and current events to investments, family, and even fashion! I was blown away by his wit, off-the-cuff remarks, and incredible sense of humor. At one point, he even got down on one knee and pretended to propose to one of our travel companions!

Perhaps what blew me away most about this man was his brilliant intellect and wealth of knowledge on so many topics. I can’t even fathom the amount and depth of information that passes through his head each day. While my husband was busy asking Mr. Buffett his reasoning behind his most recent acquisition of Burlington Northern railroad, I was trying to muster up the nerve to ask him about his philosophy on philanthropy. I’ve known for some time that Warren Buffett has a reputation for living a relatively frugal lifestyle and gives much of his wealth away to charity. For somebody with hundreds of billions of dollars, it may come as a surprise to most that he lives in a $150,000 home and drives himself places. (Rumor has it that when his children were babies, he thought spending money on cribs was a waste of money so his children slept in drawers!) When Mr. Buffett finally discussed the topic of philanthropy, what he said really struck a chord with me. His response was (paraphrased):

I have a tremendous amount of respect for individuals and organizations out there involved in philanthropy- even more so that your average businessmen and women. The main difference between business and philanthropy is that in business problems are more clear-cut and problem-solving typically happens more quickly and frequently given the right amount of the inputs: money and intellect. Philanthropy, on the other hand, attempts to solve complex problems that have eluded both intellect and money for centuries. We must be patient in philanthropy. Successes will come much more seldom, but when they do, they will be worth celebrating much more than any business success.

I think these words are important to remember for any worker, donor, or volunteer engaged in philanthropic work.

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Where the Money Goes…

May 3rd, 2010

By Jan Sherrell

So what happens after I make a gift to Metro United Way’s Community Action Fund?

I like to think of the Community Action Fund as an “investment in our community.” For example: the money that comes out of my paycheck for retirement gets invested by experts, people that know the market and do that work for a living. Donations to the Community Action Fund are the same – those dollars are invested by staff and volunteers who study community needs, agencies that provide help for people and the work that those agencies do.

A minimal amount of these dollars help fund special initiatives in the counties we serve (the majority of funding for these projects comes from other sources). Every county has a committee of local volunteers who help determine the right focus for their community. Some examples are dental screenings, developmental asset surveys, or financial stability education.

The great majority of Community Action Fund dollars go to agencies to help meet a broad range of needs in our regional community. Before dollars are routed to agencies, their performance and general health are reviewed.

A group of volunteers called the Program Review Team makes funding recommendations. The Program Review Team is recruited for their skills and knowledge about a range of community issues such as education, mental health, measuring outcomes and passion for the community. They review written reports that agencies submit, called Investment Proposals. These 10-40 page documents (!!!) detail an agency’s challenges, successes, learnings and the work they do. Volunteers learn even more by visiting the agencies, meeting clients and board members.

Here is a sampling of the information collected in agency Investment Proposals:

  • Financial stability
  • Efforts to identify, maximize and leverage resources
  • Collaborations
  • Results – changes in the clients’ lives
  • Clients served and client conditions
  • What an agency has learned from the past year
  • Diversity and Inclusion

It is wonderful when something volunteers learned from one agency can be shared with another agency. There have been many such occasions. Agency A had luck garnering a grant so we made the connection for them to share their experience with agency B, or data that agency C collected proved valuable to agency D doing similar work.

Metro United Way funds outcomes – which is the change in a person’s life. Funding may go to increase a youth’s school attendance through a mentoring program, or to better inform a father on how to deal with his son’s addiction. These changes are tracked and reported for our review.

These comments from Jefferson Alcohol & Drug Abuse Center director, Diane Hague, really explain outcomes best.

When we first started attending Metro United Way  trainings about outcomes, my first reaction was “More hoops to jump through for Metro United Way.” After looking at what we would need to do in order to conform to the new requirements about outcomes, the light bulb came on. I understood. Why would anyone want to pay for something if they didn’t know what the outcomes were? We began looking at what we wanted for outcomes and what the best way was to gather that info. Then another light bulb- why not do this for all of our programs? So we have Metro United Way to thank for jump starting us into thinking about what it was we were looking for in terms of outcomes in all of our programs.

How do we know we are truly making a change in the clients’ lives?  We continue to make needed changes as a result of the survey responses.”

Keep an eye out for future blog posts where we’ll talk more about how we fund Metro United Way’s own initiatives such as Success By 6 and 2-1-1!

What other funding questions to you have?

Giving, Volunteering , , , ,

Success and Spirit in Southwest Louisville

April 23rd, 2010

By Kelly Thompson, Director of Engagement Initiatives

If you live in the Louisville-area and don’t know about the great things going on in southwest part of Jefferson County prepare yourself to be amazed at the growing community pride brewing in neighborhoods like Valley Station, Pleasure Ridge Park, Fairdale, and Shively. The establishment of the Southwest Dream Team is one of the many new movements sparking a renaissance of community pride and civic involvement taking the area by storm.

Over a year ago I did a video story on Jim and Kathy Pullen from Southwest Louisville VITA site or the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance site run by Louisville Asset Building Coalition. Jim and Kathy are a great example of the kind of people that are making places like Southwest Louisville.

Here is what Jim and Kathy have to say today about their experience being volunteers for such a vital community program:

I wanted to take a minute to write about a community of volunteers.  My husband and I are site coordinators for the Southwest VITA (volunteer income tax assistance) site.  The people of our community have done a tremendous job of stepping up to provide this needed tax service.  We are open almost 30 hours each week including Sat.  Over 20 volunteers have donated countless hours each week since Jan. 19 to make this happen.  Actually, we have counted those hours…..over 1800!  They even came out when the roads were bad and schools were closed.

Many of our volunteers also find time to help other non-profit organizations.  One of our volunteers found herself unemployed and decided to spend her ‘free’ time helping others.  Another works in our area but lives in another part of the county.  He stops one evening each week on his way home to help and even comes back of Saturdays!

Although it’s been an exhausting experience, we leave everyday proud to be a part of Southwest Jefferson County.  We are a community of people who cares about our neighbors and demonstrates that caring through our actions.  We will have provided free tax preparation to over 1000 people by the time we close our doors on April 15.  A feat that is only made possible because we have a community of volunteers in Southwest Jefferson County.

Jim and Kathy Pullen

Site Coordinators

Southwest VITA

Giving, Income, Volunteering ,

Gaining More Than You Give

April 2nd, 2010

By: Angie Ditsler


Last week I had the most amazing volunteer experience.  One of my most favorite Success By 6 volunteers asked me to return the favor and volunteer for a project she was working on in Shelby County.  When I first agreed to be a guest judge for the Shelby County Teacher of the Year Award I assumed that meant I’d be reading over nomination forms and scoring them.  But how well can you really judge someone’s teaching ability and impact on his or her students from reading an application?  My question was answered as soon as I received my judging packet in the mail, and saw that I’d be spending the day observing teachers in action and interviewing them individually about their jobs.  I couldn’t wait!


When I arrived at the Central Office that morning I met the other guest judges, a reporter for the Sentinel News and a school administrator in the Henry County school system.  Together, we read over the bios of the teachers we would be meeting later and then headed off to our first school.


I was absolutely blown away by what I observed that morning at Heritage and Simpsonville Elementary Schools.  It has been years since I stepped foot in fifth grade and kindergarten classrooms.  In some ways, my mind was immediately taken back to my days spent sitting in a beanbag chair in the “reader’s corner” in Mrs. Waggener’s classroom devouring novels as she played soft music in the background.  In other ways, I couldn’t help but think, “Where in the world am I?!”  There were no chalkboards in sight- instead the teachers wrote with their pointers on “smart boards” and erased the board with the click of a button.  I also noticed that neither classroom had a teacher’s desk.  My fellow judge explained to me that these schools practice what is known as “child-centered classrooms,” meaning the teachers are immersed in working alongside their students rather than lecturing from the front of a room.  I couldn’t help but feel “behind the times” as I looked around the rooms and watched these teachers work their magic on the students. 


When it was time for the interview portion of the day, I found myself straying from the scripted questions and asking the teachers about every detail of their days.  I was just so fascinated by everything I heard!  But what I marveled at the most were the teachers’ responses when I asked them why they continue to do this job after 10, 20, and even 30 years.  All responded, “It’s the kids.”  It was apparent to me that these were people living their passion.  I definitely gained more from this volunteer experience than I gave.  I walked away feeling inspired, motivated, and even more energized to pursue my passions, too.

Education, Giving, Volunteering , , ,

Chip-in fore charity!

April 1st, 2010

By Angela Championkdf-hole-in-one1

In Louisville, spring fever goes hand-in-hand with Derby Fever. This year, the Kentucky Derby Festival Fifth Third Bank Million Dollar Hole-In-One Golf Contest will benefit Metro United Way!

Where: Water Tower – River Rd. & Zorn Ave.

April 15-24: 10 AM – 8:30 PM. April 25: 10 AM – 5 PM. Semi-finals: 6 PM CLOSED April 17

Finals: April 27th 6PM at Seneca Gold Course, Hole #8

2010 marks the 21st year for this event that has quickly become one of the “anchor” events of the Derby Festival.  Over 60,000 shots were taken last year to qualify for a chance to advance to the final round and the MILLION.  Again this year, there will be 53 available Finalist positions for the final round.  The 2010 Finals are on April 27th at Hole # 8 at Seneca Golf Course.

They keep trying to give the money away!  After 20 years, the $1 million prize is still up for grabs in the finals of the Fifth Third Bank $1 Millon Dollar Hole-In-One Golf Contest.  Anyone from beginners to scratch golfers can take a shot.  There are great prizes just for qualifying and if no one gets the million, they can still walk away with a terrific First Prize.

Preliminaries are held for 9 days at the Water Tower on River Road. This year’s challenge begins Thursday, April 15, 2010 and runs thru Sunday, April 25.  The Hole-In-One is open daily.  (See above for scheduled times.)  Each golf ball is only $1.  Get 5 FREE golf balls with the purchase of a $5 Pegasus Pin at the event.

NEW IN 2010 All hole-in-ones during preliminaries will receive $53.  In addition, Metro United Way is the new charitable partner of the event.  All participants who donate $5 to Metro United Way when they purchase their golf balls will receive $153 if they get a Hole-In-0ne (on the day of their donation).golfers1

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