Just like LiveWorkPlay, the work of United Way Ottawa never stops. But it is during the fall season and into December when United Way awareness tends to peak, following the official launch of the Community Campaign. This year’s campaign seeks to change 61,500 lives with the support of more than $17,000,000 in donations, tens of thousands of volunteer hours, and more than 100 partner agencies who will all be involved in making that happen.
Below we’ll talk about some of the ways LiveWorkPlay is a part of this effort. But first, let’s talk a bit about the work of United Way Ottawa and the connection between donations and changes that are created in our community.
You have likely seen something about the campaign, be it in your workplace, through direct mail, on a street sign, in the news (see video, right), or via the internet. Some of these communications may have come from other charitable organizations, mentioning the opportunity to donate directly to their cause, rather than donate to the United Way itself. This is certainly an option for any donor to consider. If you have a direct connection to one or more specific charities, then there is certainly a logic to participating in the United Way campaign by directing your donation to the causes that are close to you.
It is worth considering that you might do both (using this form): donate to individual charities with whom you have a close connection, and also direct some of your giving to United Way Ottawa. Why? Our community has a bigger picture with complex needs that always extend beyond the work of individual cause-related charities. LiveWorkPlay is not shy about accepting donor dollars, but we also recognize that we are oine piece of the puzzle, and working with others is essential to effecting lasting change.
United Way’s current priority goals focus on specific issues that cut across disadvantaged populations and issues to achieve community impact. For example, issues of homelessness, addictions, poverty, employment, and education are all linked. In addition to funding, United Way Ottawa supports research, partnerships, and accountability (measuring impact) with respect to the three focus areas of Growing Up Great, Belonging To Community and Turning Lives Around. Each focus area features several priorities that correspond to specific issues and/or populations. In other words, the work is both complicated and comprehensive, which is a necessary to solving problems, changing lives, and building a strong community.
The LiveWorkPlay connection is also complex and comprehensive. We currently have a traditional relationship as one of more than 100 agencies that receives donor dollars for a specified period of time to tackle a problem. We are also a partner with collaborative initiatives, such as the Employment Accessibility Resource Network. And last but certainly not least, we have a highly reciprocal and mutually beneficial relationship with advocacy and awareness.
A recent public example of how this all comes together is represented by United Way Ottawa coverage of a Government of Canada Workplace Charitable Campaign (GCWCC) event known as the Wellness Challenge, which featured more than 1000 participants raising over $25,000. The event is a fundraiser, but also a team-building and community-building opportunity. LiveWorkPlay member Cooper Gage was invited to run with campaign co-chair Mark Sutcliffe, and some of their experience was captured on video (click on the photos to watch the videos).
“It was great to meet Cooper, he’s a really inspiring guy who’s done a couple half marathons,” Sutcliffe said. “He’s a client of LiveWorkPlay, a great organization that United Way supports. He’s really passionate about it too. When he gets talking about LiveWorkPlay, it’s really heartwarming to hear what a difference they’re making in his life.”
For Cooper, in addition to his ongoing efforts as an ambassador for LiveWorkPlay, it’s a chance to make connections with others who share his passion not only for social issues such as the employment of people with disabilities, but also to be a part of other sub-communities of people who share passions like fitness and running. Cooper has made public presentations and speeches at United Way Ottawa events, but through his experience at the Wellness Challenge, he is also contributing to and benefiting from being a part of a bigger team.
Partnerships are difficult and it is worth noting the effort that United Way Ottawa is making to support them. It is not easy to share, and the non-profit sector is not exempt from that challenge. To see Cooper wearing his team shirt and talking about LiveWorkPlay (in videos produced by United Way Ottawa) while running alongside 1300 others is a wonderful outcome all by itself. Through that shared passion $25,000 was raised towards a $17.2 million goal (and with your help, this will change 61,500 lives).
LiveWorkPlay hopes that others will be influenced and motivated by seeing and hearing what Cooper, Mark, and others have to say. We think they have demonstrated how working together truly makes a difference.