|From left, Kathy Conway, the United Way's campaign chairwoman, Alison Moscrop, board chairwoman, and Marla O'Brien, executive director with United Way of the Central and South Okanagan Similkameen, hold up red velvet cupcakes from Sugar Sweet Cup Cakes during a news conference prior to the United way's Volunteer Appreciation Lunch attended by about 90 people.|
However, announcing the total "doesn't really capture all that the United Way does," said Marla O'Brien, United Way executive director.
"As we move from an organization that raises money and redistributes it to an organization that pro-actively promotes community investment, we need to tell the story of impact - not just the dollars, but what they do."
Kathy Conway, campaign chairwoman, admitted: "We most certainly did have an ambitious target this year." However, it was tougher due to changing staff and the ongoing subdued economic climate, she said.
In other targets, the United Way met or exceeded many of its goals:
â€¢ The campaign produced 52 new "leaders" - individual donors who contributed more than $1,000, more than the goal of 50 new leaders. The region now has 245 total.
â€¢ The goal was 30 partners who recycled used electronic goods in exchange for a donation; the campaign produced 23, but the number is growing.
â€¢ Days of Caring (employee volunteers donating time to non-profits): the goal was $130,000 in in-kind donations; the result was 4,281 hours of volunteer time on 66 projects valued at $148,745;
â€¢ Youth grants: the goal was $5,000; the result was $7,500 in the Central Okanagan, plus $5,000 in the South Okanagan;
â€¢ GenNext (young professionals): the goal was to reach 500 members; the result was 95 on a mailing list, 402 social media followers, 350 attending events and a $4,000 campaign donation;
â€¢ United Way distributed 11,000 free bus tickets to people in need;
â€¢ Success by Six (helps pre-schoolers achieve their potential before they enter school) brought $191,000 in provincial assistance and leveraged $65,000 in donations;
â€¢ The Better At Home program was launched in Penticton in 2012 and will begin in Kelowna this year; the potential is more than $500,000 invested in support for independent living by seniors during the next three years.
â€¢ A $195,000 bequest developed programs to support healthy youth self-esteem in the South Okanagan in partnership with Community Foundations of the South Okanagan.
â€¢ Partnered with other organizations to provide training to more than 80 participants in the non-profit sector on social media and best human resources practices.
"When all of these amounts of community investment and in-kind contributions are included, it is quite accurate to say that United Way harnessed over $1.7 million in investment to support community priorities in 2012," said board chairwoman Alison Moscrop.
The United Way traditionally announces its campaign results during the Spirit Awards Breakfast, but "it never really gave us an opportunity to properly thank our volunteers," said O'Brien.
"There are so many volunteers involved in the United Way's efforts, between 400 and 500. Collectively, they've given about 14,000 hours worth of effort throughout our region to make an impact on our communities."
So the board held the inaugural Volunteer Appreciation Lunch for 90 volunteers at the Ramada Hotel on Tuesday. The Spirit Awards on April 17 at the Rotary Centre for the Arts will honour everyone who contributed to the 2012 campaign.