If you were with us at the Isle, you know that we decided to switch things up a little with our campaign kickoff. We followed the trend of many other organizations and turned our fundraising kickoff into an actual fundraiser.
Knowing we were taking such a different approach from what we normally do meant we really had to come up with an out-of-the-box idea that not only excited our donors for the two-hour event, but also left them feeling excited about the upcoming United Way campaign in their workplace. We needed to capture the attention of our audience while also informing them of the need in our community.
Now, more than ever, we need to continue providing support to our students who may one day lead your workforce. We need to be there for our seniors who have been an integral force in our community and help them to continue to thrive and live independently. Our partner agencies collaborate every day to ensure seniors, children and their families are achieving their full potential. But what if we could do more?
The idea for offering our partner agencies mini-grants came from a United Way Worldwide training I had the pleasure of attending earlier this summer. The focus of the training was on fundraising, and I had the opportunity to learn from other resource development professionals working for United Way chapters across the country. Thanks to a colleague from Michigan, I learned about an event that utilized crowdfunding and the tech-popular start-up platform to help nonprofits begin new initiatives in their communities.
Why did Team United think this would be the perfect program to use for kickoff? We had a couple of reasons. First, it gave our partners an opportunity to share their ideas with our donors. We typically get about 10 minutes on average to update our donors with information during campaign season. Since we invest in over 30 partner agency programs, it’s impossible for us to share details about all of our programs in these short presentations. Sure, we highlight one every month in our newsletter and you can read more about them on our website, but donors are constantly telling us they also enjoy hearing directly from the source.
The second appeal of this new concept is it gave us a platform to demonstrate continuous need right here in Southeast Missouri. I tell people every day that I want to work myself out of a career. If there ever came a day where an organization like United Way and all of our partner agencies were no longer needed – it would be incredible. Unfortunately we aren’t quite there yet, but we’re still motivated to make this community the strongest it possibly can be. We gave three partner organizations the opportunity to share with our donors what would happen to their organization if they had just a little more funding. As it turned out, they could do some pretty incredible things.
The Boy Scouts of America utilize United Way funding to focus on giving “camperships” to students in our area who can’t afford to attend one of their summer camps. They believe in giving everyone the opportunity to have a full scouting experience, which is why they applied for a mini-grant that will pay for a troop in Jefferson Elementary School. The $500 they requested can pay for the materials and uniforms required to train 4 adults to lead 10 students on their scouting journey.
Linda Nash, Executive Director of Voices for Children/CASA, applied for a $1,000 grant to start a support group for foster students who are about to ‘age out’ of the system and graduate from high school. For any student, deciding what to do after high school can be challenging, especially in a day with so many opportunities. For the 20 or so students aging out of foster care, basic survival can be an even greater concern than attending college or trade school. The new support group will help these students become self-sufficient and productive members of the community and develop into individuals who are capable of meeting their own needs. The group will also allow them to gain the resilience and acquire the skills and education necessary to live independently.
Finally, the Community Caring Council (CCC) and Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeast Missouri collaborated to create the “Passport to Summer” initiative that will take place during the Boys and Girls Clubs’ 2018 summer camp. The goal of the program is to encourage students to engage in cultural, artistic, and community-focused events, building on the Key Developmental Assets of responsibility, the arts, and community taught by the CCC. The $1,000 grant will help cover the event and transportation costs for each student participating in the program.
We are extremely grateful to our donors at kickoff who stepped up to meet the need and make it all possible!
All it took was $2,500, the perfect kick-start to our campaign. If you can give just a little, that is just as fantastic. Every dollar invested into our organization goes a long way; we make sure of it. No matter the size of your gift, YOU make a HUGE impact in the lives of our families, friends, neighbors and coworkers. If every United Way donor in our region gave just one more dollar every year, it would be more than enough to make all three of these programs a reality every year.
It’s not just our community. It’s YOUR community. Together, we make it stronger. #LIVEUNITED
If you’re interested in supporting these mini-grant initiatives, please click here to submit a donation.