Monday, September 10, 2012

Kick-Off Thoughts - Kicking-Off a New Season

As summer is coming to an end, there are new beginnings in the air, especially at United Way of Lake County. The United Way of Lake County's Kick Off event took place a couple of weeks ago (special thanks to Mentor High School, the Mentor High School football and basketball teams, the Lake County Captains, and everyone else who donated and helped that day). People from all over the county gathered to welcome the new campaign season in, both familiar faces who are very close to our message and work hard to help us bring in the money needed, and new faces who are going to bring new enthusiasm for the United Way of Lake County message. We gathered for breakfast, shot hoops, and took the first steps in preparing for the coming months of fund-raising. The main event was the announcement of the goals for this coming campaign season. We are hoping to raise 2% above last year ($3,716 million), then we have a stretch goal of 3% over last year ($3.715 million). I believe these goals are doable for our incredibly driven volunteers and staff.

Behind the excitement and celebrating, there is the underlying and driving knowledge of what these goals mean.

This year, we introduced another goal, a third goal, and it's one that represents everything that we are working towards at United Way of Lake County. Sometimes people don't fully understand the different aspects of what United Way of Lake County does. In my opinion, as someone who is still learning the ‘in's and out's’ of the UWLC-world, one of the coolest things that we do is the Evaluation and Investment (E&I) process. Committees from the community, people who live, work, and care in Lake County, meet together and look at the different ‘core’ programs  that UWLC commits to funding. These volunteers are the ones who decide where the funds are distributed. Part of the process is that the E&I volunteers  ask a few things from the agencies who run the programs that UWLC funds. The first are the outcomes of the programs. The agencies show the E&I committees how they use the money from UWLC and exactly who benefitted from the donor dollars. The E&I committees look at their budgets, make suggestions when needed, and get to know the programs. The agencies then provide a request for the amount of money they NEED for the programs to make the biggest difference.

The third goal UWLC introduced this year is the goal based on the requests for the money that is actually needed for these programs to make the biggest impact. We are calling it the Needs Goal. We can only provide so much funding for the programs based on what was raised but the Needs Goal shows us what the actual need for the programs is. The Needs Goal is 8% above what was raised last year ($3.934 million). While it may seem like an unreachable figure, it is something that us, as staff, will have in the backs of our minds throughout fund-raising and it is something that needs to be in the backs of all our minds when going through this year's campaign season. We understand that the economic state is difficult this year. There is a saying that I heard growing-up… 'Shoot for the moon… Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars (Les Brown).' The Needs Goal is the moon. It is there, lighting the way for everything that is done this campaign season, but reaching the 2% goal is still raising money that will significantly help those in need in the community. The programs that we fund are going to continue to function and every dollar that is donated makes a big difference.

Reach for the moon, and we, as UWLC staff and people who care about Lake County, will do what we can to help you get there.

So, at Kick-Off, we challenged the community to reach out to those who do not understand the need.  We are also challenged to raise even one dollar more than we raised last year and we are challenged to take a look at what we are able and willing to give because it is worth it.

Check out the story that The News Herald posted about Kick-Off here.
Pictures courtesy of Skip Trombetti of Van's Photo.
Makella Slavick
Special Projects Coordinator
United Way of Lake County

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