“Fundraising is not transactional. People give because of a connection.”

As someone who has a strong distaste for numbers and nearly all things mathematical, I have a love for statistics. Sometimes it’s enough to say that volunteering can help engage potential donors, but it goes a long way when we can back that up with research and firm numbers.

Did you know that someone who engages with United Way as a volunteer is seven times more likely to give in the future?

This single fact alone says enough about how important it is to begin engaging with individuals through more of a hands-on approach. Millennials are proof of this. While the workplace campaign model continues to be United Way’s most effective giving opportunity, as more donors move into retirement giving plans their workplace contributions aren’t being replaced by the younger generation.

One of my personal goals moving into our next campaign is to provide more opportunities for our community to gain a deeper, more individualized connection to United Way. How?

First we’ll continue to promote United Days of Caring as an annual event. This year’s two-day experience will take place on Friday, April 27th and Saturday, April 28th. Volunteers will have the opportunity to choose which project they want to get involved with, whether it be installing smoke detectors with The American Red Cross, working with Habitat for Humanity, or helping paint new stripes on the Lutheran Family and Children’s Services’ parking lot.

So why are we having a community-wide volunteer event on a Friday and Saturday? Studies show that when businesses promote volunteerism to their employees, it creates a stronger bond between the employee and the business. Is your management team looking for a teambuilding exercise? Does your sales staff need a break from making cold calls? United Days of Caring might be the perfect opportunity to help them engage with United Way.

Bill Stanczykiewicz was a keynote speaker at a United Way conference I attended earlier this month. He said, “Fundraising is not transactional. People give because of a connection.” So I ask, what’s your connection to United Way? What do you want your next connection to be? Who else can you help make that connection to United Way and our community?

Be sure to stay tuned for more information on UDOC, as well as more corporate engagement opportunities as we roll into the 2018 Campaign. United Way is here to create lasting change in our community, and we want you and your team to be a part of all the fun we have doing just that.

P.S. – Yes, that’s truly how you spell Bill’s name, now try pronouncing it!

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On Wednesday the community of Perryville will mark the one-year anniversary of a tornado that destroyed 42 homes, impacted 105 families and, more importantly, took one life. As a member of the Long-Term Recovery Committee (LTRC), I’ve had an opportunity to learn a lot about Perryville in the last year, mostly confirming what I’d already heard. Unarguably, this is a proud, tight-knit community of caring people.

Following immediate help from hundreds of citizens, volunteers and agencies, one of the first actions taken by a funding organization was from the Perry County Community Foundation, which chose to provide $1,000 gift cards to every family to help with immediate needs. Several families refused theirs, offering their share to others who might need it more. Many families, even after learning they were under-insured, refused to seek help from Jennifer Streiler, the professional case manager who has performed with a praiseworthy blend of compassion and equity.

Others have sought help with a wide variety of needs as they go about rebuilding their homes and their lives. Based on the recommendation of the LTRC, funds from United Way donors have contributed to back-to-school clothing and supplies, land surveys, siding, appliances, furniture, ground fill, and workshops to aid in emotional and financial recovery.

Exactly one year to the day, we will co-host with Catholic Charities and The Salvation Army an anniversary dinner for the families. Quite likely, this will be the last time these people come together specifically because of this disastrous event that provided so many lessons. Hopefully, a long-lasting one for these families will be that they are not in this alone. There are many people who care about them, including strangers near and far who physically came to help, and donors to our phone-a-thon the week following the tornado who called from as far away as Texas, Colorado and New York.

Advice our ‘tornado families’ want to share with others includes:

  • Take photos of everything in your home and store them somewhere safe and/or in the cloud.
  • Back up everything!
  • Visit with your insurers regularly to confirm and understand your coverage—be sure it covers the purchase of new items, not just the reimbursement for the item’s current value.
  • Prepare and update an emergency kit with a record of prescriptions and credit cards, first aid supplies, cash, water and food, glasses and/or contact lens supplies, a phone charger, and anything else you can’t do without for a few days.
  • And, perhaps more meaningful than anything, “Tell those you love how important they are to you every day, because you may not get another chance.”
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Change is certainly a word that this current United Way team is familiar with! Personally, I view change as a good thing. It’s an opportunity to welcome fresh ideas and to promote growth both within and outside of our organization.

No worries! Team United is still banded together and now has a collective 5 years’ experience under our belts. However, in case you missed it, we’ve had the opportunity to add a part-time administrator to our team and she’s been great. Cyndy has been instrumental in helping maintain our campaign data over the last few months. She also helps us with general bookkeeping, ensuring the office is organized and stocked, and so much more.

In Elizabeth’s article you can read more about the change happening around the Perryville storm last year. The Long-Term Recovery Committee has invested over $210,000 so far to help families with rebuilding costs, general basic needs, and even back-to-school expenses. YOUR continued investment in our organization is always making a difference and changing lives throughout Southeast Missouri.

Our partner agencies have seen some internal changes as well, and we wanted to take this opportunity to share the good news! By now, many know that former United Way employee, Melissa Stickel, has taken over as the Executive Director of the Community Caring Council. She is doing an incredible job of promoting collaboration and educating our community about the great work happening over in their office.

The American Red Cross – Cape Girardeau also welcomed a new director just before the holidays. Julian Watkins comes from Southern Illinois University – Carbondale where he worked as a staff attorney and was responsible for providing legal representation for students. Prior to SIUC, Julian served as an Assistant State’s Attorney for Pulaski County, owned his own law practice, and was founder to BuzzFetch Marketing, LLC. Julian comes to the Red Cross with excitement and energy and looks forward to growing this organization in our community. 

Another new face joining the United Way family is Allen Treece. Allen just recently started his role as the new Executive Director at Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeast Missouri. Previously, he served as the Executive Director of the Oscar Cross Boys & Girls Club of Paducah where he helped create tremendous growth. Allen has a passion for serving youth and helping kids fulfill their true potential, and looks forward to spearheading the continued growth of our local clubs.

On the other hand, we’re also seeing two executive directors pass on their roles as they enter retirement. Al Stoverink with Habitat for Humanity retired from the organization back in December. Al did an incredible job aiding families as they worked to get into their forever homes. Linda Nash has also announced her retirement from Voices for Children (CASA). Linda leaves the organization after being instrumental in its growth and continued success.

We want to congratulate Al and Linda on their retirement and thank them for their dedication! They’ve both truly left a mark and taught us all so much about not only their respective organizations, but also about what it means to be a team player and make a difference in our community.

If you see any of our new faces out and about, please be sure to welcome them to the community! We’re excited to see what our new faces bring to Southeast Missouri and to work with them in the coming years.
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The United Way 365 Small Business Giving Program is designed for smaller organizations that want to be a part of the United Way network, but may not have the resources to run a full-blown workplace campaign. For as little as a dollar a day, small business owners join a circle of individuals working every day to strengthen our community. 

How long has your business been in operation?

Our business has been in operation for over 38 years.

What services does your business provide?

We provide several avenues of insurance and financial planning options.

What do you enjoy most about working for a small business?

It is a business with a family atmosphere. Everyone that works here truly cares about one another and our clients. It's nice to work for a business where everyone enjoys coming to work each day.

What do you love most about this community?

What I enjoy most about this community is the optimism and support it has for small businesses and organizations.

Why do you choose to support your community through United Way?

I choose to support the community through United Way because the 365 campaign allows me to give directly to our community.

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Let's #GiveFromTheHeart!

“Generosity is a practical expression of love.” – Gary Inrig


Long-time donors may remember when our annual campaign began and ended in the fall, creating a three-month whirlwind of fundraising. While we still kick off in the fall and host many workplace presentations before November, our fundraising efforts are now year-round. We do this to accommodate some of our valued partners who prefer this time frame and also because it is more fitting to our mission.

We are here to unite people to resources in an effort to strengthen everyone in our community. Our partner agencies can attest to the fact that the need is 24/7/365. We can’t focus our efforts on a specific time of year and hope to be effective. Our community, your community, needs the help year round.

Although we host Celebration in the spring to publicly ‘end’ our community drive, we also have major events nearly every quarter. Celebration will be followed by United Days of Caring (UDOC), April 27-28; our 31st annual golf tournament will occur as it always does on the first Friday of June, then we will be back to an August kickoff, and a fall of workplace giving.

While our workplace giving model is still our most relevant source of income, many of our initiatives are designed to inform more people about our work, especially those who do not learn about United Way in their workplace. One relatively new event is held during the month of February and is fittingly termed Give From The Heart (GFTH). In its third year, the ‘Give from the Heart’ campaign is an opportunity for the general public, small businesses, restaurants, and other United Way partners to continue sharing our mission while collecting additional funds for the annual campaign.

This year’s mini-campaign will kick off on February 1, when a variety of area businesses and organizations will begin selling hearts to customers for a minimum donation of $1. We are very grateful to the following businesses that have already committed to sell hearts to their customers throughout the month. We hope many more will be added!

  • Alliance Bank
  • Ameren MO
  • Banterra Bank
  • Bloom
  • Canine Clipz
  • Catapult
  • Commerce Bank
  • Culver’s Restaurant
  • Cup ‘N’ Cork


  • First Midwest Bank
  • Fox 23/KBSI
  • Ground-a-bout
  • Heartland Custom Flooring
  • High Street Station
  • Innovative Orthodontics
  • Jackson Tire
  • Judith’s Antiques & Gung Ho Militaria
  • Kuts Plus
  • Missouri Running Company
  • Mousse Salon & Spa
  • Old Town Cape
  • Reed’s Metals of Scott City
  • Smokehouse 61
  • Southern Bank
  • The Bank of Missouri
  • United Land Title


Other businesses plan to donate a percentage of sales through share events. We hope you will show support to all of these businesses who help our community, even if you can’t get there on the date of our event.  

  • Five Below will donate 10% of sales made between February 4-10. This is a great opportunity to let your kiddos know about how easy it is to give back when they purchase from one of their favorite stores. Be sure to share this flyer when checking out!
  • On Valentine’s Day, make plans to visit Buffalo Wild Wings in Cape! 10% of lunch and dinner sales will be donated back to United Way.
  • If you love wings, check our Facebook page for share days scheduled at Wings Etc. in both Cape and Jackson (dates TBD).
  • Still keeping up with your New Year’s resolutions? Visit our friends at Missouri Running Company on Saturday, February 24th for their Purchase with a Purpose fundraiser benefiting our Give from the Heart campaign!

Finally, be sure to join us at one of the two trivia nights being hosted by Cup ‘N’ Cork! The first will be Saturday, February 10th at 6pm and the second on Saturday, February 24th at 6pm. Entry fee is $10/player and you can have up to 6 players on your team. Proceeds from the event will be donated back to United Way of Southeast Missouri.

Like Gary Inrig said in the quote above, “generosity is a practical expression of love.” While we gear up for a very pink, loving, and chocolate-filled February, let’s not forget to share the love with those in our community who need it most. 
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A Community Living United

Do you know about The People’s Shelter, ABC Today and Tiger Lilies? Perhaps you are more familiar with The Salvation Army, Big Brothers Big Sisters and Central Middle School. The latter all have programs United Way of Southeast Missouri helps fund, and the first three are all worthy programs we do not invest in but support by connecting others. So much occurs behind the scenes in our community that many people who are not involved in the nonprofit world are unaware of the ongoing collaboration by so many worthwhile organizations.

Just in the last two weeks a meeting with a local business owner introduced me to a new program for female students at Central Middle School called Tiger Lilies. It was developed by the same counselor who helped launch the Honorable Young Men’s Club. Although we are very involved in the schools, I had not yet heard of this program, so of course, it was not on my meeting agenda. But just days later I was able to direct the women of Zonta, interested in providing mentoring to young women, to Tiger Lilies.

United Way staff members serve on Big Brothers Big Sisters’ ABC Today network, which is in every school in the Cape school district. Through our workplace campaigns and corporate sponsors, we are able to help them acquire partners and prizes to reward students, and they help us find desperately needed volunteers for our early literacy programs. They work with other mentoring programs we support, including the Boys and Girls Club, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, and the after-school program we sponsor at The Salvation Army, which helped start the Back to School fair for all area students.

The People’s Shelter is a grass roots effort started by St. James AME Church to provide emergency housing during the bitterly cold nights our region recently experienced. While the group successfully utilized social media to rally volunteers and request aid, I first learned of them through our association with the Cape Girardeau Ministerial Alliance. Although their contributions have not been as public, numerous churches in the area have quietly contributed significant funds and services. In the first 48 hours the shelter was operating, United Way utilized our network to acquire large electric stock pots from a local caterer and the ingredients to fill them with hot vegetable soup for several days. United Way donors assisted many other community volunteers and businesses to provide food, clothing, bedding, and even transportation. Now we are working together to prepare in advance of cold weather and establish a process for these organizations to work together in helping our homeless out of the cold.

We also are part of a Community Housing Committee tackling affordable housing for low-income families and individuals. Many of our partner agencies, including Habitat for Humanity, First Call for Help and the Community Caring Council, also are represented.

Housing has been discussed at length in the Long-Term Recovery Committee meetings I attend in Perryville. Our participation in this group, which directs funding for the families impacted by the 2017 tornado, has opened doors to businesses and individuals who can help us grow our presence and offerings in Perry County, while helping its citizens.

Another group I visit when my schedule allows brings together agencies focused on workforce development. This is a key component of strategic plans in many of the communities we serve and will be discussed as we begin revising ours.

We frequently hear people bemoaning “Death by meeting,” but for the most part, the many meetings I attend every week reinforce the strength and value of our network, even to those agencies that are not a funded part of it. These meetings demonstrate our mission every day: to be the leader in uniting people with resources to build a stronger and healthier community.
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As we near the end of the year, it is fairly common to see businesses and individuals reflect on the last 12 months. For many, it’s the end of another fiscal year and an opportunity to look at the books as they set goals for the next calendar year. Others look back on their successes and celebrate them with those who helped make it all possible. Here at United Way of Southeast Missouri, we’ve decided to do the latter, partially because we’re only in the middle of our fiscal year…

Considering I’m involved in a large percentage of what goes on in this office, thinking about what specific successes I wanted to share with our United Way family was flooding. Of course, one of my favorite memories of 2017 was the annual kickoff event. I’m unbelievably proud of everyone who helped with this event, from the United Way team who helped with set-up to the partner agencies who gave their time to our donors. The marketing committee did an outstanding job supporting the promotion of the event and, of course, we have to thank Jay and Gunnar Knudtson for being wildly fun MC’s for the afternoon. Pulling together so many people and running a seamless event is never an easy task, but we did it and I think it demonstrates our commitment to partnerships and community.

It was also the first time, to my knowledge, that this organization began annual fundraising efforts with an actual fundraiser. I’ve played a part in numerous fundraising initiatives over the last few years and one thing seems to remain constant – change is a challenge that we all manage in our own unique way. However, our loyal donors were extremely receptive to the new event and together we were able to bring in additional funds for the campaign. This was also an opportunity to educate everyone on the continued need in our community and the donations taken in during our programming actually went to support three new initiatives our partner agencies proposed, meaning we were able to make an even bigger impact in Southeast Missouri.

Let’s also not forget the impact that was made when the community came together to support our neighbors affected by the February tornado in Perryville. United Way of Southeast Missouri was able to collect over $73,000 to invest into long-term recovery initiatives in that area. So far the funds have been used to help cover additional back-to-school expenses, assist households with foundation and rebuilding expenses, and lead community discussion through emotional and financial recovery workshops.

The last piece of the year that I believed to be unbelievably important to our success was the restructuring and rebuilding of our committees. After this team got through our first campaign together, we realized how helpful it would be to re-engage the volunteers on our committees. It’s safe to say we wouldn’t make it through budgeting without the help of our finance committee; the idea of managing the annual campaign without our ambassadors and marketing committee sounds ridiculously stressful; and our community investment group has been instrumental in refining the way we collect outcome information from our partners.

So what about the rest of the team? Donna mentioned that our move was her biggest success of the year, and I can’t say I blame her! If you haven’t seen the new digs you may not realize we lost over half of our square footage with this move. That meant downsizing years of files, decorations, supplies and more. Let’s not forget that we had to build a kitchen into our new office and try to organize everything while gearing up for campaign.

Even though we downsized our office, growth and consistency were two common themes throughout our year. If you’ve talked to Elizabeth recently, she’s probably expressed her excitement for not just another year with the same dedicated team, but the growth of the team as well! Cyndy came on board as our new administrative assistant and immediately helped get the office organized. Now she’s been instrumental in helping with data entry and other administrative duties, leaving more time for the full-time staff to focus on fundraising, marketing and impact.

Speaking of impact – the final two additions to #teamUNITED were Emily and Nancy, our Read to Excel site coordinators. Their program was another HUGE win for the community this year. Students in grades 2-6 at Jefferson and Franklin Elementary and at Cape Middle School have had the opportunity to get extra reading help through Read to Excel, an expansion of United Way’s Read to Succeed program. The data we’ve been shown proves the power of this volunteer-driven program and we were thrilled to receive a grant from the Delta Regional Authority to expand into the higher grade levels.

Of course, our funded partner agencies have had an incredible 2017 as well! United Way funding helped:

  • Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeast Missouri host two summer camp locations for 133 total members attending from the surrounding counties and launch a new after-school program in Scott City,
  • First Call for Help provide assistance with over 2,000 cases in Southeast Missouri,
  • Add another desperately needed case manager to the Community Caring Council team,
  •  Enable Scott County 4-H to start a new junior leaders program,
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters expand their ABCToday network that supports student progress in all Cape public schools,
  • Habitat for Humanity completed two homes, one for a single father and his children and also broke ground on a third, which will be the first ever all-women build in our community.

The list of successes could go on and on, but it’s important to remember that none of this would have been possible without the support of United Way donors and volunteers. We hope to continue being the organization you expect us to be and look forward to having another incredible year together! Thank you for all you do and continue to do with United Way of Southeast Missouri.

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Quick Guide: Year-End Giving

5 Tips to Give More and Save More Before 2018

We remain genuinely grateful for the donations of time and treasure we receive from the thousands of people who support United Way of Southeast Missouri. You are the foundation of this organization, and together we are changing lives.

If you would benefit from a year-end charitable donation, here are some additional tips to keep in mind:

  1. Charitable contributions only offer tax benefits to those who itemize their tax return.
  2. Most publicly traded securities purchased more than a year ago that have increased in value can be donated without paying capital gains tax. The greater the appreciation, the greater the tax savings. Your tax deduction increases, because it is based on the full value of the stock, not just the gain. This means you give less to Uncle Sam and even more to your community by donating to United Way!
  3. We also gladly accept cash, checks and credit cards. Be sure your credit card is charged or your check is postmarked no later than December 31, 2017, to receive the deduction for the past year.
  4. You are welcome to designate to your favorite cause, but an unrestricted gift allows us to put your money where it is most needed.
  5. If you want your investment to go to a specific cause, ask your financial advisor about creating a Donor Advised Fund (DAF). This allows you to take an immediate deduction, but gives you more time to decide how you want to direct your investment. If you don’t have a financial advisor, please contact me; we have several members on our Finance Committee who can help create a DAF that will benefit you and the people of Southeast Missouri.

Whether you Give, Advocate or Volunteer, many thanks to everyone who supports our community. The impact we make with our partner agencies and programs could not happen without your help. We wish you a 2018 full of health and prosperity.

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'Tis the Season of Giving

Black Friday is followed by Small Business Saturday, which precedes Cyber Monday, and many businesses remain open on Thanksgiving! As the newspaper becomes burgeoned with flyers and the airwaves promote holiday sales, it is easy to get caught up in the season of spending, rather than the original spirit of giving thanks and giving back. I’d like to remind you of two very easy ways to do both.

Amazon donates a percentage of every sale to the charity of your choice if you enroll in Amazon Smile, a very easy, painless process. Simply visit https://smile.Amazon.com and enter United Way of Southeast Missouri or your preferred charity. From that point on, log onto Amazon Smile to shop, and the donation is automatic. You also have the option of changing your charity at any time. Amazon will even remind you to go to Amazon Smile if you forget the next time you shop. You pay nothing extra to give as you spend.

Another way for you to give back this season is to support Giving Tuesday, a global movement now in its fifth year. Following Cyber Monday, this year Giving Tuesday falls on November 28. United Way of Southeast Missouri is using this opportunity to raise funds to ‘Save Our Students’ (SOS) by donating to emergency student funds in our public schools and at Southeast Missouri State University. The SOS funds help provide necessities to keep students focused on learning. Items include eyeglasses, lunch money, winter coats, and other necessities for students in public schools in Cape Girardeau, Jackson, Scott City, Perry County, and Bollinger County, as well as gas money, testing fees, and other assistance at the university.

There are many ways to donate on Giving Tuesday—via our social media, our website, by text, by calling our office or mailing a check. Donations may be made to a specific school or simply marked SOS. Please visit www.unitedwayofsemo.org/ for more information.

We are challenging community members to donate a percentage of what you will spend on holiday food and gifts to those students who, through no fault of their own, need your help. Our community is your community, and your community needs you. Thank you for choosing to give back. May your holidays be filled with more blessings than calories!
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Time to Give & Receive!

'Tis better to give than to receive, but when you make a year-end donation to United Way, you can give and receive at the same time!

Through our workplace campaigns, we are fortunate to receive year-round donations we invest into 24 agencies in Southeast Missouri. But nearly 33% of annual giving occurs in December with 28% taking place in the last three days of the year. For some donors, the tax benefits hold the greatest appeal, while others simply get into the spirit of giving. If you are considering a year-end gift, here are some benefits to keep in mind:

  • You can donate most publicly traded securities without having to sell them first, eliminating the capital gains tax. We have some very generous donors who gift valuable stock annually that gives them a tax reduction and puts thousands of dollars back into our community.
  • When you contribute to a public charity like United Way, you can give up to 50% of your adjusted gross income.
  • You must make itemized deductions to receive the tax benefit, which must be more than the standard deduction.
  • 99% of your gift will stay in our region, benefiting children, families, and seniors in 34 programs we fund.

Of course, we are not tax experts, so be sure to consult a qualified advisor. And if you don’t need a tax break, you can still recommend a United Way donation to your friends who do. Above all, enjoy a safe holiday season with those who matter most to you. 

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