United Way looking for volunteers for funding groupArea businesses hold book sales, pizza lunches and contests to raise funds for the United Way of Goodhue, Wabasha and Pierce Counties, and it’s working.
By: Danielle Killey, The Republican Eagle
Area businesses hold book sales, pizza lunches and contests to raise funds for the United Way of Goodhue, Wabasha and Pierce Counties, and it’s working.
So far the United Way has raised roughly $300,000, about 60 percent of its $500,000 goal for the workplace fundraising campaign. There are more than a dozen companies that haven’t turned in results yet, Executive Director Maureen Nelson said.
Businesses determine how they want to raise funds for the United Way, often holding meetings or fundraising events.
And some get creative. In Lake City last year, for example, one business held a chili lunch and game day where proceeds from game tickets went toward the United Way. Another business in the past sold stickers for wearing jeans on Fridays.
“They have to find out what they have time to do and what their employees will respond to,” Nelson said. “It’s whatever works for your company.”
This year a friendly competition between Red Wing Shoe and Xcel Energy, often top donors, could include top executives dying their hair if the other company raises more funds during the campaign.
Nelson said the final totals aren’t in yet, but Xcel did beat the Shoe during the specific campaign timeframe.
How does Nelson feel about the companies getting into the fundraising spirit?
“It’s great. We love it,” she said. “When you get the people in charge who are supportive of you, it can only help the campaign.”
The formal workplace campaign runs from September to November, but funds continue to come in throughout the year. Letters go out to individuals in the fall as well, and the United Way is part of events such as Give to the Max Day.
“We’re basically campaigning all year long,” Nelson said.
But where does that money go?
The United Way sets up groups to wade through fund applications and assign money to different area nonprofits. The groups focus on health, education or basic needs programs.
Last year the groups expanded outside Red Wing to include one in Lake City — basic needs — and Cannon Falls — health.
This year the education funding has gone into a three-year cycle, so people will apply for funds for three years instead of one. Next year the United Way hopes to do the same with health funds, Nelson said, and eventually for basic needs as well.
The shift will help agencies better plan their budgets and will be easier on the small staff at the United Way, Nelson said.
The United Way is aiming to get new people involved in the volunteer groups and include some fresh faces this year.
The education group is full, but there is still room for five or six people in the basic needs group and three or four in health.
Participants can live anywhere in Goodhue, Wabasha and western Pierce counties and need to be 18 or older.
The groups meet five or six times from January through February. Meetings include training, time to ask questions of applicants, site tours, presentations and final decisions.
Organizations’ applications are due Thursday, and there are often more requests than can be accommodated, Nelson said.
“It’s very difficult. There’s never enough money to give everyone what they need,” she said. But it’s also rewarding to serve on the group that helps determine where funds should go, she said.
“I’ve never had anyone say they wouldn’t come back and do it again,” Nelson said. “You do really learn more about your community.”
Group meetings start the first week in January. Those interested in participating should visit the United Way’s website at www.uw-gwp.org or call the office at 651-388-6309.