United Way launches fall fundraising campaign

Calgary’s corporate and business community is expected to once again step up to the plate. Last year the Calgary and area campaign raised $52.6 million

Mario ToneguzziCalgary’s corporate and business community is expected to once again step up to the plate as an integral supporter of the United Way of Calgary and Area, which has launched its annual fall fundraising campaign.

The Calgary and area campaign raised $52.6 million last year. The campaign runs until the end of the year.

Karen Young, United Way’s president and CEO, said the corporate campaign is very important to the organization.

“Last year we had over 846 organizations that held workplace campaigns. So through the workplace side of it alone they were able to raise $45 million. So you can see it’s very substantive because a lot of our major donors are affiliated with that campaign and by hosting campaigns, many of our workplaces also do a corporate match or a corporate gift. That really helps leverage the impact that the campaign can have in the community because we’re really able to double and sometimes triple the impact,” said Young.

“Issues like hunger, affordable housing, mental health and addictions, domestic violence, and early foundational supports critical to kids success are often thought of as someone else’s problem – but they’re not,” said Young. “These are very real issues that thousands of individuals are struggling to overcome every day that impact us as a city. These are community issues that require community solutions.”

Karen Young
Karen Young, United Way of Calgary and Area president and CEO

She said by hosting a campaign, companies also bring together employees around the complex issues that really matter in Calgary and raise awareness around the community and the social issues. It also helps mobilize the community for lasting social change to improve lives.

United Way invests in agencies and programs to achieve common outcomes; leads and supports key initiatives that promote sector collaboration and system-level change; and advocates governments on policy to remove barriers and challenges to those they serve. Their work is made possible through fundraising efforts.

The 2018 Campaign co-chairs are Noralee Bradley, a partner at Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP, and David Smith, president and CEO of Keyera Corp.

Here are some key facts the United Way is highlighting this year to drum up support for its annual campaign:

  • 39.3 per cent of food bank users in Alberta are children, under 17;
  • in 2016, more than 40,000 Calgary households were at risk of becoming homeless, because they spent more than 50 per cent of income on shelter;
  • people with stronger social connections have a 50 per cent increased chance of a longer life, compared to those with weaker ties;
  • in 2016, there were 88 hate crimes against racial minorities reported in Alberta;
  • between 2016 and 2017, 22,274 women and children were turned away from women’s shelters due to overcrowding;
  • less than 50 per cent of Alberta kids are developmentally ready for kindergarten;
  • for every youth who does not complete high school, it costs society $18,300 annually in earning loss, use of social assistance, health care, crime and tax revenue loss;
  • 70 per cent of adults with a mental illness indicate their symptoms first emerged during childhood or adolescence;
  • Indigenous children represent 69 per cent of those in Alberta’s child welfare system.

United Way of Calgary and Area supports more than 500 people every day through an annual investment of more than $50 million in initiatives and programs that support more than 100 community agencies and 56 collaborative initiatives. The organization said more than 175,000 people engage with United Way through partnerships and initiatives each year.

Mario Toneguzzi is a veteran Calgary-based journalist who worked for 35 years for the Calgary Herald, including 12 years as a senior business writer.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.

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