NORTHAMPTON – Even before the close of its 2013 fiscal year on June 30, the United Way of Hampshire County (UWHC) announced that it reached its ambitious campaign goal of $1.25 million through the support of 3,600 individuals and local organizations.
Jim Ayres, Executive Director of the UWHC, said his agency intentionally sets goals that are a stretch to energize the campaign, and this year is the first in several that the goal was met. He attributes the success this year to broader outreach in the community, the use of social media and the agency’s deeper presence in communities such as Ware, Easthampton and the Hilltowns.
“At the end of the day, it isn’t about dollars raised, though,” said Ayres. “It’s about the positive good created with all those dollars, the many lives touched and the overall strengthening of our communities that happens as a result.”
Ayres said disbursements to 32 partner agencies and programs will benefit over 28,000 residents of Hampshire County – or one in six county residents – in the UWHC’s targeted support areas of Children and Youth, Health and Safety and Economic Security.
“We are making sure that young children receive emotional support and cognitive stimulation that will serve as a foundation for their future. We are ensuring individuals’ safety and protection from violence, harassment and neglect. We are opening pathways for long-term success through adult education,” Ayres said. “These are examples of the good work these dollars allow us to do to strengthen our communities. And doing so benefits us all.”
Volunteer leaders of the UWHC have worked diligently in past years to engage with the community – through such means as innovative fundraising events, input seeking and social media – and Ayres said it’s this kind of community engagement that raised awareness about the organization and allowed the campaign to succeed – even in a difficult economy.
Peter Jessop, campaign co-chair in 2013 with Patti Covelli, said that workplace giving campaigns – a cornerstone on which the United Way giving model is built – were highly successful.
“Every place we went, people were receptive of the message of the United Way,” said Jessop, president of Integrity Development and Construction, Inc., in Amherst. “People were very generous at all levels of the business and professional world. We felt very supported by the community, and that allowed us to have a campaign that will continue to support the community in the coming year.”
Ayres noted that many long-time donors increased their giving and many new people joined in the efforts. “We’re in a community that cares very deeply and steps up to answer the call for support. We’re also a community that enjoys doing that together, as opposed to giving in isolation.”
Ayres cited PeoplesBank as an example of stepping up to answer the call for support. In the past month, as the UWHC came to the end of its fiscal year, PeoplesBank tripled its prior corporate gift to help the UWHC reach its ambitious campaign goal.
There were many other campaign highlights this year. Giving strategies were innovative and involved collaboration and team work, such as the “Purchase with a Purpose” fundraiser organized by leaders at Thornes Marketplace, in which 15 Thornes merchants gave 5 percent of their sales – roughly $8,000 – to the UWHC on Oct. 13, 2012.
East Side Grill also raised roughly $10,000 selling the Thank-U-Tini martini, and a Ski United downhill skiing trip raised roughly $7,000 as well.
Said Ayres, “When we give together, we can create change that makes a difference. That’s what the United Way model is all about. People are feeling excited and engaged about the model.”
The United Way of Hampshire County advances the common good by strengthening and sustaining a network of partner agencies prepared to respond to needs in the local communities.
To learn more or to make a donation, please visit: www.unitedwayhampshirecounty.org.