The University Record, September 20 , 1999

United Way goal set at $1 million

By Jane R. Elgass

PAWS with a Cause was among the 28 agencies represented at United Way campaign information fair last week. Nearly 175 U-M volunteers attended the traditional chicken pot pie luncheon at the Michigan League. Photo by Bob Kalmbach
With a $1 million goal in their sights, United Way Campaign volunteers will be fanning out across campus in the coming weeks, determined to extend to all faculty and staff the opportunity to be philanthropists.

The volunteers received words of praise from University campaign chair Regent Rebecca McGowan at their kick-off luncheon Sept. 13, and some tips on how to be successful campaigners from Susan Feagin, vice president for development and a member of the Washtenaw County United Way Board of Directors.

This year’s countywide goal is $8 million. County Administrator Robert Guenzel, also the county United Way chair, said, “United Way is on the upswing,” having enhanced its credibility and significantly lowered its overhead during the past two years. Last year it was able to give $75,000 to new agencies. “That’s a tough act to follow,” Guenzel remarked.

Drawing on this year’s theme, “It’s what we do together,” Guenzel noted that the University’s role in the countywide campaign is very significant, accounting for one-eighth of the overall goal. The campaign, he said, is a strong example of cooperation and collaboration among the public and private sectors. “I’m convinced the citizens will come through.”

Congratulating returning University volunteers on last year’s $985,000 in pledges, McGowan said, “Your efforts were superb. Many benefited from your generosity.”

“Philanthropy is defined as a ‘desire to help mankind,’” Feagin explained to the nearly 175 individuals enjoying the traditional chicken pot pie luncheon, adding that in volunteering for the campaign they have become philanthropists.

She offered three suggestions to help them make their efforts successful:

  • Make it as easy as possible for the “wannabe philanthropists.” Sometimes it’s just a matter of asking for a contribution, citing her experience with individuals who’ve said, “Nobody ever asked me.”

  • Some potential donors may need a bit of special attention. Share with them some of the real life stories of how agencies have helped individuals.

  • “Get the job done and then give yourself a big pat on the back.”