United Way sets new record-Two million plus Chairman gets ‘touched’ for the last $54.00

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  February 17th, 2011.  –  They made it and in the process set a new record for the Burlington United Way campaign.  The team wanted a nice round figure and so senior staff leaned a little on the Campaign Fund Raising Chair, Karmel Sakran, and got him to write a cheque for $54.00 which took the original total of $2,199,946.00 and put it over the $2,200,000. level. Nice bit above the 2010 total of $2,150,000.

Tim Brown, left and Len Lifchus, both of the United Way,  lean just a little on Fund Raising Campaign Chair Karmel Sakran, center, to write a cheque for the amount to got the total to $2,200,00 - a record for Burlington.
Tim Brown, left and Len Lifchus, both of the United Way, lean just a little on Fund Raising Campaign Chair Karmel Sakran, center, to write a cheque for the amount to got the total to $2,200,00 – a record for Burlington.

Now the task of distributing the funds to the 37 different programs in Burlington that are supported by the United Way begins  Len Lifchus, CEO of the joint Burlington and Greater Hamilton United Way, points out when he talks of the work the United Way does he realizes there are some serious myths about social issues in Burlington.

“People don’t think there is any poverty here – there is.  People don’t think we have significant youth issues in Burlington – we have them.  And people don’t appreciate how desperate some of the seniors in this community are.  These are real problems and the money raised by the United Way goes a long way to helping community groups deliver a service to these people who need help”, stated Lifchus.

The task for the United Way now is to begin allocating what was raised – and that is not as simple as just writing cheques.  Eighty four cents of every dollar raised get sent to the community.  Seven cents is used to cover the cost of administration and nine cents used to cover fund raising expenses.  As fund raising organizations go – that’s a pretty decent balance.

That 84 cents left amount to $1,848,000.00 –  which will be divvied up and sent out late in March.  All the organizations seeking funds have had their applications in since the end of  November.

All the funding applications are reviewed by a volunteer committee that has several levels.  “These applications” explained Tim Brown, Senior Director, Resource Development, “get put through several levels of review.  What we watch for is the measurable outcomes that the community will see with the funds we provide.”

Volunteers are the life blood of organizations like the United Way.  While there are 16 people on staff there are 554 volunteers who do things like review funding applications and make those hard choices as to who gets what.  The final decision is made at the full Board level but it is the volunteers who do the grunt work and propose a schedule for the Board to approve.

“There is never enough money” cautions Lifchus.  We do the best we can with what we raise and then develop the community so that more can be raised.  The per capita amount raised in Burlington is $12.25 cents while in Toronto it is $56.00 but Toronto isn’t a good example to compare with – they have all those large corporations, adds Lifchus.  “But adds Brown, “London is quite comparable to Burlington and their per capita is twice that of Burlington – so we have some work to do.”

The area that needs the most development is the corporate side.  There are hundreds of companies in Burlington that don’t have an employee contribution program.  We need to reach those companies and explain what the United Way does and how it makes a difference to the company, their work force and the community they work within.

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