For the first time in its history, United Way Sudbury and Nipissing Districts will strive to raise money over a three-year term, and they've set the bar at $7 million, 2013 campaign chair Patricia Mills revealed on Sept. 18.
The three-year strategy marks a departure from past campaigns, which have traditionally involved goals for four-month-long fundraising drives each year.
Mills, publisher of Northern Life's sister publications, Northern Ontario Business and Sudbury Living Magazine, said the change is long overdue.
“You don't run a business from year to year,” she said. “You have your five-year plan and your 10-year plan. It just shores up the belief that we're looking at sustainability, and we're going to be here for the long run.”
Although United Way raised $1.96 million with last year's campaign, Mills said she thinks raising $7 million over the next three years is achievable. In fact, she dreams of reaching that goal in just two years.
United Way Sudbury and Nipissing Districts has also developed a plan aimed at helping the organization meet its three-year fundraising goal.
With the multi-year strategy, executive director Michael Cullen said the organization is now going to put more effort into reaching out to donors.
Thanks to a new database, he said it will be possible to send personal thank you notes to everyone who contributes, and keep them in the loop about the United Way's efforts in the community.
Cullen is also confident the $7 million goal will be reached.
“Mathematically we have the formula to back it up and the history to back it up,” he said.
Multi-year goals and better donor recognition are a new trend among United Ways across the country, said Barb Nott, the organization's president.
This year's United Way Sudbury and Nipissing Districts campaign was supposed to be led by Jean Hanson, the former director of education with the Rainbow District School Board.
Hanson was going to spend the year preparing Mills – originally this year's campaign vice-chair – to lead the fundraising drive in 2014.
But when Hanson was forced to bow out due to illness, Mills stepped up and took her place. She'll work with a cabinet of community leaders to ensure the organization meets its fundraising targets.
“(Hanson) laid the groundwork,” Mills said. “She's worked very, very hard, so I really do feel like I'm just driving her car home over those last few miles. I'm happy to do that.”
She said she sees United Way as a type of “community blanket,” providing funding for dozens of agencies such as Maison Vale Hospice, as well as offering programs such as income tax help and GenNext, a youth volunteer program.
Cullen said he thinks Mills is a great choice to lead this year's fundaising drive.
“What can you not say about Patricia Mills?” he said. “She's wonderful, dynamic. She picked up from Jean Hanson with respect to the adopting of the plan. Patricia Mills is leader in her own right. She's a huge asset to the United Way.”
United Way Sudbury and Nipissing Districts 2013 campaign cabinet:
Campaign chair – Patricia Mills
Education sector co-chairs – Kevin McCormick, Huntington University and Paul Camillo, retired, Rainbow District School Board
Finance sector co-chairs – Faith Salmaso, RBC Royal Bank and Stephanie Noel, TD Bank
Government sector chair – Cynthia Pisaric, Canada Revenue Agency
Health sector chair – Mark Hartman, North East Cancer Program
Social service sector chair – Chantal Gladu, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Sudbury
Labour/union relations – Wyman MacKinnon, retired, City of Greater Sudbury/CUPE 4705
Leaders of the way – Jeanne Warwick Conroy, retired, Diet Centre
Professional sector – Spencer Ball, Weaver Simmons
GenNext co-chairs – Jessica Penteris, Northern Life, Ty Cummings, Finlandia Village, and Ashley Tremblay, Levert