There are no more important words we can say to begin this newsletter than thank you. Your commitment to helping us achieve our mission of bringing people, organizations and resources together to improve well-being in our community is inspirational. As you will read, your commitment to the 2012 Campaign pushed us far beyond our $13.7 million goal and furthered the upward trend in Campaign results that began two years ago. That increased support will help continue to create lasting change in our community, and we are truly grateful for and inspired by your support.
Your volunteer support is no less inspirational. Although we thanked our volunteers in person at our annual Volunteer Recognition breakfast, we want to extend a heartfelt thank you to every community volunteer - your investment of time in supporting United Way and other nonprofit agencies yields a tremendous return in the lives that are changed through your efforts - for example the 400 new mothers and their babies who will benefit from our second annual Community Baby Shower.
As important as your financial and volunteer support are to us, your opinion is equally valuable. Please take a few short moments to answer our newsletter survey so that we can deliver content that you find interesting, engaging, and relevant to you.
Finally, there are many events and activities in the coming months that offer ways for you to stay involved - or get involved - in the coming weeks and months. We thank you for your ongoing support and commitment, and hope you will stay engaged with us as we work together to improve quality of life in this precious community.
Our 2012 Campaign officially concluded on March 31. Ordinarily we would announce our fundraising result very early in April. This year, though, we waited a few weeks to make our announcement so we could celebrate an incredible achievement with some of the many volunteers whose efforts made it possible. On April 23, with nearly 175 United Way staff and volunteers present for our annual Volunteer Recognition Breakfast, we proudly announced that our 2012 Campaign raised $14,033,752 - an increase of 3.1% over last year.
Dennis Black, vice president of University Life and Services at the University at Buffalo, spoke with his characteristic energy about the success of the Campaign.
"At the University at Buffalo, like so many schools, we give out Report Cards, with letter grades. So this morning, it's time to grade the 2012 United Way Campaign," he said. "When we announced our goal of 13.7 million dollars in September, this campaign faced challenges, but together as a community, we worked in a united Way to meet those challenges and I'm pleased to say we can give this year's campaign an 'A plus!'
Steve Finch, plant manager at GM Powertrain and Chair of our Board of Directors, acknowledged Dennis's passionate leadership and noted that the success of our Campaign is a reflection of overall growth and optimism in the region. "Over the past three and a half years, the United Way has undergone a tremendous transformation and decisively reversed a 10-year trend of declining revenues," he said. "I am so proud to be part of an organization that is contributing so directly to improving quality of life for people in need."
Michael Weiner, president and CEO, outlined some of the key factors that contributed to the success of this year's Campaign:
- Geico increased its campaign result by 210% over last year, raising $408,830 compared to $131,688 in 2011;
- 68 companies ran workplace Campaigns or gave corporate gifts for the first time this year, generating $52,000;
- Corporate support increased by 15%;
- The number of contributors giving $500 or more increased by 10% and donors giving $10,000 or more increased by 13%;
- Donor designations to community based organizations increased by 10% to $4,405,350;
- The Rochester Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), a federated campaign for Federal employees which was administered by UWBEC for the first time this year, generated $139,000.
In addition, we have implemented expanded fundraising strategies beyond the traditional workplace Campaign. For example, checkout campaigns by Wegmans, UB and other local retailers have been growing since the first local effort by Wegmans in 2010. This year, these efforts generated $206,000 - an increase of 16% over last year. And the first annual United Way-led "Spring It On" 24-hour online fundraising event on March 1st generated more than $75,000 on behalf of 155 local not for profit agencies.
The increase in Campaign revenues will mean increased resources that will directly benefit community agencies, although not necessarily through our biannual community investments process which manages discretionary or undesignated dollars.
"A key element of our mission is driving additional resources to agencies in the community, and designated contributions and initiatives like Spring It On helped us achieve that" he said. "Our recent Community Needs Assessment, however, highlights some significant risk factors in Education, Income, and Health and Wellness that we are working to address through program funding and community initiatives - and we look forward to generating more discretionary resources toward those programs and initiatives in the years to come."
We express our sincerest thanks to Dennis and to all the volunteers who pushed our 2012 Campaign to this extraordinary result, and look forward to working even harder in 2013 to generate even more resources to address the Education, Income, and Health & Wellness needs in our community.
Each year, National Volunteer Week offers an opportunity to reflect on the power of volunteer service in communities across the country. This year we were delighted to welcome a large group - nearly 175 staff and volunteers - to the Hyatt Regency Buffalo on April 23rd for our annual Volunteer Recognition Breakfast, which was generously sponsored by Paul Snyder Jr.
The event featured a keynote address by David Hore, co-president of PCB Group, Inc, a long-time and deeply dedicated community volunteer, and the incoming chair of our Tocqueville Society. David, whose extraordinary volunteer service included a ten (10) year commitment as President of the Board of Directors of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Erie County and a subsequent two (2) year tenure as the interim CEO of the organization on the passing of its founder and only CEO, Robert F. Moss. David's inspirational address included reflections on his long volunteer service and thoughts about how his own life has changed as a result of his volunteer experiences. "Without volunteers, United Way could not make lasting change in our community," he said. "Volunteers help to re-write the stories of those helped and, at the same time, volunteering can provide life-changing experiences for those who give of themselves in service to others."
The breakfast continued with recognition of five Board members whose terms of service are expiring this year. Steve Finch and Michael Weiner recognized and thanked each of them, and presented them with a token of our appreciation:
- Carey Anderson of JR Militello Realty, a longtime United Way volunteer whose work in Board Development and governance has helped strengthen our Board - and consequently our organization;
- Steve Bell of Eric Mower and Associates, whose very capable leadership of our Marketing Committee has been invaluable to the transformation of our brand;
- Mike Hoffert of the AFL-CIO Buffalo Council, who has championed our message among our community's labor community;
- Robert Stevenson of Eastman Machine, whose leadership of our Tocqueville Society last year has helped us grow this important base of support; and
- Flo Tripi of CSEA, a staunch United Way supporter connected to the Buffalo and Rochester United Ways for over 20 years.
The 2012 income tax filing season concluded not long ago, and while the annual filing process can be stressful, it can also be life-changing for many hardworking families. Each year, the Free Tax Preparation Network of the Buffalo Federation of Neighborhood Centers (BFNC), funded by United Way and supported by Creating Assets, Savings and Hope (CASH), a United Way initiative, completes and files tax returns for thousands of local individuals and families - helping them access tax refunds and credits that might otherwise go unclaimed. Although the final figures for the 2012 filing season are still being tallied, current numbers indicate that this year the Free Tax Preparation Network filed tax returns for nearly 8,700 recipients, yielding over $13.5 million in tax refunds and credits - including more than $7 million in Earned Income Tax Credits. These funds will not only helped improve the financial stability of those who received them, they will support our local economy as well.
Here is a story of one person who received much needed help from the Free Tax Preparation Network after her husband passed away (her name and image have been changed to protect her privacy):
June M., West Seneca, NY
Three years after my husband passed away, I still had not filed tax returns for that time period and I didn't know where to begin. My husband had always been the one to take care of the taxes, and I felt overwhelmed. After I received several letters from the IRS, my friend Kathy suggested that I call the Free Tax Preparation Network, a United Way funded program offered by the Buffalo Federation of Neighborhood Centers. I was so relieved to find out that the services were still offered after tax season, and I scheduled an appointment with a volunteer tax preparer who helped me file all the tax forms. I was pleasantly surprised to receive a refund of over $5,000. I'm so grateful for their help, and I will definitely be back next year. Thank you for rewriting my story.
Each year in Erie County, thousands of babies are born into poverty. Each week, 8 infants are born to women receiving late or no prenatal care. 21 babies are born pre-term, 15 are low birth weight, and 1 will die before age one. Once again this year, our community made a difference through the United Way Community Baby Shower, a community-wide effort to collect essential baby items to help at-risk mothers give their newborns a stronger start, giving them the supplies and support needed for a healthy beginning.
Our second annual Community Baby Shower began April 1 and throughout the month local individuals, families, friends and workplaces collected brand-new items that are so essential for any new mom - diapers, wipes, baby thermometers, sleep sacks and other necessities, and dropped them off at the United Way building. On May 9, volunteers were busy packing these and other items into pink and green gift bags that were distributed to three agencies that serve at-risk moms: Catholic Charities WIC program, Jericho Road Ministries' Priscilla Project, and the Buffalo Prenatal-Perinatal Network Community Health Worker program.
Last year we were able to assemble and donate 300 gift bags. This year, thanks to the incredible generosity of hundreds of people at nearly 50 local companies, our volunteers packed enough bags to help more than 400 new moms and their babies get off to a great start! This incredible result would not have happened without the hard work and caring hearts of our volunteers, and everyone who hosted a shower or donated items. Special thanks to our sponsors: Bank of America, WKBW and TownSquare Media.
Check out our Facebook page for photos and shout-outs to many of the individuals and companies who went above and beyond to make our second annual Community Baby Shower such a success for so many moms and their babies!
What kind of stories and information would you like to see in our newsletter?
Click the links below for more information on upcoming events and ways for you to get involved:
Upcoming Leadership Society Events: These events are open exclusively to Leadership Society members, who make an annual commitment of $500 or more to our Campaign. Click here for more information on our Leadership Society. Call Joyce Brown at 887-2799 for more information on any of these events: