Buffalo, N.Y., April 16, 2015 - For the fifth straight year, officials at the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County have announced an increase in funds raised. The 2014 Campaign raised $14,473,746 against a fundraising goal of $14,400,000. This is the fourth consecutive year the non-profit organization has exceeded its goal. The total raised came from a combination of employee workplace campaigns, corporate and foundation support and several special programs designed to support the United Way and its partner agencies. Last year, the United Way raised $14.3 million.
The result was announced at United Way's annual volunteer appreciation breakfast held at the Hyatt Regency this morning. This year's campaign enjoyed an increase of $264,000 in overall corporate giving, 75 new workplace campaigns and an increase of more than five percent in average individual giving. Also cited in helping to exceed the campaign goal were special fundraising programs including Spring It On, a 24-hour online fundraising campaign; scanning campaigns at local grocery stores; and the Buffalo Bills 50/50 raffle.
According to Michael Weiner, United Way president and CEO, "These results represent five years of consistent growth that is more than just a number. Contributions to the campaign help to improve quality of life in Erie County through programs and partnerships that improve education, financial stability, and health and wellness for thousands of infants, children, families, adults and seniors."
Weiner continued, "It is such a testament to our community's commitment to helping their neighbors that giving increased in almost all categories and that it has been sustained over a number of years. That generosity, combined with the time, dedication and hard work of hundreds of volunteers every year truly demonstrates the fact that the Western New York community understands the importance of giving back. As always, we are truly grateful."
The 2014 Campaign was led by volunteer co-chairs Jay McWatters, partner at Dopkins & Company, and Susan O'Sullivan, executive director, VAR Sales at Ingram Micro, who will also co-chair the organization's 2015 Campaign.
"Over the past year I have learned so much about what we can accomplish as a community when we work together through United Way," said O'Sullivan. "As a donor for many years, I have trusted United Way to make positive change. It has been so gratifying to lead the Campaign with Jay this year and see so many people raise their hands to give."
McWatters said, "I have always known that our community is profoundly generous, and this year has proven that many times over. People want to make a difference, and I have been proud to share the work of United Way and give people the opportunity to step up and have an impact through their generosity."
Today's breakfast also coincides with National Volunteer Week, which provides an ideal opportunity for United Way to recognize its volunteers. Tina Stenhouse of Moog Inc., a long time volunteer for a number of Western New York organizations and a member of the United Way Leadership Society and Women's Leadership Council spoke about her volunteer experience and the impact it can make.
United Way officials recognized the hundreds of volunteers who support the organization in myriad of ways and through a variety of programs and volunteer opportunities at the breakfast event. In addition, Steve Finch, plant manager at GM Powertrain and outgoing Chair of the United Way Board was recognized for his years of service to the organization.
Outgoing Advisory Council members including Kirsti Hunt of LP Ciminelli, Jeremy Jacobs Jr. of Delaware North Cos. and Rich Gold of M&T Bank, as well as outgoing Board Members Rich McCarthy of M&T Bank and James Walleshauser, were also cited for their contributions and dedication to the United Way.
More than 2,000 students participated in Reading off the Rink in 128 classrooms, which led to almost 50,000 hours of reading at the end of the10 weeks. This was such an impressive reach for the first year, and we are very excited to continue developing the program with the Sabres so that we can expand the program to reach as many students as possible. By sponsoring this initiative, the Sabres gave us an opportunity to instill the love of reading in our students, and the success of classrooms like Judy Anthony's have proven that it's possible.
All children in Erie County have a healthy start and are equally prepared to grow, thrive, be healthy, and give back to their community. This is the vision of the Healthy Start Healthy Future for All coalition, a network of over 50 members from local government entities, universities, schools, and healthcare providers, which works to improve the health of parents and their children. A major goal of the coalition is to increase healthy births, and the need, especially in the Buffalo area, is highly evident. Infants born in Buffalo bear the brunt of Erie County's high infant mortality, with 14.1 deaths per 1,000 births in the city alone (compared to 4.97/1,000 in New York State). There is also a notable racial disparity in infant mortality rates in the city: 7.7/1,000 Hispanic infants, 9/1,000 white infants, and 15.4/1,000 African American infants.
Since 2010, United Way has partnered with UBMD, to lead the coalition which has helped improve care in medical care practices, hospitals, and community programs by improving access to care and promoting healthy lifestyles. Programs include piloting the first ever Baby Cafes in New York, thus offering peer support drop-in centers facilitated by lactation professionals, and strengthening the Maternal Infant Community Health Collaborative to improve health outcomes for high-need mothers and infants. Most recently, in partnership with Buffalo Prenatal Perinatal Network, the University at Buffalo Family Medicine Primary Care Research Institute conducted focus groups on barriers to healthy births for low-income women. Results showed that stressors such as far distances between services, needing to take multiple buses to get to appointments, lack of knowledge on how to avoid pregnancy, and lack of social support are major challenges. After reviewing these results, the coalition formed work teams to build strategies to reduce barriers to healthy births. If you would like to join the coalition, contact Mary K. Comtois, Program Director of Health Initiatives, at (716) 887-2608 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
At the local, state and federal levels, the importance of individual and organizational voices cannot be underestimated. Although advocacy efforts take time to produce tangible outcomes, positive developments have emerged in issues where UWBEC has voiced our support. During 2014-2015, we contributed to advocacy initiatives that resulted in:
Reinstatement of funding for 2-1-1 services in the 2014-2015 New York State budget;
Temporary extension of specific IRA charitable rollovers in the 2014-2015 United States budget;
Hiring of 37 Child Protective Services workers in Erie County
We are grateful for the leadership of our volunteer Advocacy Committee in developing the agenda and guiding our efforts to achieve our goals. If you are interested in learning more or lending your voice by serving on our Advocacy Committee, contact Aaron Krolikowski at 887-2717.
Spring came a day early for nearly 200 local nonprofits on March 19, our third annual Spring It On 24-hour fundraiser. On that day,
Western New Yorkers celebrated Spring this week by contributing $150,210 to Spring It On, a 24-hour online fundraising event held from Thursday, March 19 at 8 am through Friday, March 20 at 8 am. The fundraiser benefited a diverse group of nearly 200 non-profit organizations that made their case for support through on-line and social media channels and surpassed the goal of $150,000, exceeding the $125,000 raised in 2014.
The International Institute raised the most donations at $16,006 while the New Life Residential Center raised $13,585. Jericho Road Community Health Center and the Elmwood Village Charter School both raised nearly $3,000 during the 24 hour fundraising event. One third of participating organizations were new to the program this year and two-thirds returned after participating last year. The varied group of agencies included those arts and cultural, health and human services, environmental, religious and animal protection organizations.
Spring It On is an online giving event created and powered by the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County and is designed to raise awareness and funds for not-for-profit organizations. The event, now in its third year, invites 501c3 organizations of every type in Erie, Niagara, Chautauqua, Allegany and Orleans Counties to participate. Participants set their own goal and promote the event and projects that will be supported through donations through their websites, social media and traditional marketing activity. Spring It On was modeled on successful one-day fundraising events in other communities, including Rochester's ROC The Day event.
Individuals were able to make a one-time, secure, online donation to the local not-for-profit agency of their choice through a specially designed website, www.springiton.org.
According to Michael Weiner, President and CEO of United Way of Buffalo & Erie County, "Our success with Spring It On once again demonstrates the generosity of the Western New York community. In addition raising significant funds for a diverse group of organizations, we know that this is a tremendous, cost-effective tool for organizations of every size to be able to promote their mission to a growing on-line community."
Did you know that we have a podcast? We are partnering with Cumulus Broadcasting once each month to host Sound Magazine, a half-hour community affairs program on the Cumulus stations (97 Rock, 104.1 WHTT, 103.3 The Edge, and Swing 1270 AM) that airs Sunday mornings at 6 am. But you don't have to be an early riser to hear it! We post the shows on our website at uwbec.org/podcast. Episodes feature people and organizations who are working to make our community a better place, from agencies serving local veterans to United Way Community Investment volunteers. If you have an idea for a future topic, let us know by contacting Patty Olender at 887-2637 or email@example.com.