United Way officials kick off their annual fundraising campaign at the Harvest Lunch at Budweiser Gardens, September 20, 2017. Photo courtesy of the United Way.

United Way Launches Campaign Without Fundraising Goal

There was no splashy unveiling of a seven-figure fundraising goal at this year’s United Way 3M Harvest Lunch.

United Way Middlesex-London broke with tradition on Wednesday, launching its annual campaign without announcing a fundraising goal. Instead, officials focused on different numbers, like the one in seven London and area residents that live in poverty and the 100,000 who live with mental illness.

“People are really having a hard time understanding the impact of their gift so it was really important to us to start to talk about United Way in terms that make sense to people – what are the outcomes, what are the actual things that we are doing in the community,” said Kelly Ziegner, CEO of United Way Elgin Middlesex

The agency says it hopes to use funds raised in this year’s campaign to provide 8,000 spaces in after-school programs for vulnerable kids, 16,000 counselling sessions to help 5,000 individuals move toward mental wellness, and funding for four community hubs that provide easy access to crucial social services in high priority neighbourhoods.

“All of that comes at a cost,” said Ziegner. “We know the need is increasing, as so is our need for funds in the community so we are looking at about a 5% increase over last year. That’s what it is going to take to get the job done.”

Last year’s fundraising goal of $9.17-million wasn’t met as the campaign brought in $9.1-million. It was the first time in 16 years the non-profit has missed its fundraising target.

The United Way funds over 80 programs and services in London including the Boys and Girls Club and Big Brothers Big Sisters. All money raised through the annual campaign remain in the community in which they were raised.

Nearly 3,000 people attended the Harvest Lunch at Budweiser Gardens.

Campaign donations, event information or to volunteer for the United Way visit unitedwaylm.ca.