Campaign Posts Highest Results in 5 Years

In the photo at left, associates from Shape attended Celebration 2012 on March 20, where they received the "Out of the Box" award for the most creative camaign, and the Cappon & Bertsch Community Builder Award for their campaign results and volunteerism.


Greater Ottawa County United Way has completed its 2011-12 community campaign, and Tuesday night it announced campaign results and honored outstanding campaign companies, nonprofit community partners, and volunteers at its annual Celebration Dinner. One of the highlights of the event, held at Spring Lake Country Club, was the announcement of a 7 percent increase over last year’s campaign, with a total raised of $2,179, 586.

“Our goal was to support the increasing financial needs of our community partners in Ottawa County—and with a 7 percent increase over the total raised last year, we did just that! We set an ambitious target at $2.3 million, which we recognized as a stretch goal. The people of Ottawa County recognized this, as well, and rallied to the cause. We succeeded in creating a campaign that was full of energy and optimism … a campaign that propelled the United Way message into a larger number of  Ottawa County homes and hearts.  As a result of this effort, we turned in the highest campaign results in five years,” said Scott Remenschneider, 2011-12 Community Campaign Chair.

“Since the campaign launched last September, hundreds of volunteers worked very hard and thousands gave very generously to help us raise nearly $150,000 more than last year,” Remenschneider added.

Highlights of the campaign include 167 local workplace campaigns completed, with 85 of those showing increases or staying the same compared with 2011 results.  For the ninth year in a row, United Way received a challenge from an anonymous donor who offered to match all new or increased leadership gifts (gifts of $500 or more from an individual or household) made by residents of the Tri-Cities, up to $30,000. Louann Werksma, United Way Director of Development, reported that 83 new or increased leadership gifts totaling $33,658 were received from Tri-Cities residents, meeting that challenge.  “County-wide, 687 households gave leadership-level gifts totaling $742,412, up 5 percent in dollars and 17 percent in number of donors over last year,” she added.

Retiree giving was up 24 percent over last year, and a recent 10-week “Everyday Hero” campaign waged in social and traditional media—supported by events in local restaurants--brought in another $10,000 and 200 new donors.

“As hard as we work on our workplace campaigns, we still only reach about 20 percent of the citizens of Ottawa County,” said United Way President Patrick Moran. “The other 80 percent can join the movement anytime by visiting our website and checking the box to become an Everyday Hero with a pledge of just $1 per week.  If each of Ottawa County’s 100,000 working adults who don’t now contribute to the campaign would pledge just $1 per week, we could triple the campaign.”

United Way officials said that their work could not be done without the generosity of corporate partners and volunteers alike. A total of 45 volunteers served on this year’s Campaign Cabinet, and 72 community members served on community investment panels to decide where the dollars that are raised should be allocated. That process has just been completed and is awaiting approval by United Way’s board of directors for investment of $1.3 million in 62 local nonprofit programs.

Volunteerism was also celebrated Tuesday, with United Way Director of Volunteerism Shannon Morton announcing that the third year-long campaign to “raise” volunteers exceeded its goal of 5,630 volunteers.  According to Morton, a total of 5,776 volunteers gave 115,477 hours of service, valued at more than $2.4 million, to Ottawa County from March 23, 2011 through March 20, 2012.  Rhonda Dittman, a Holland resident and employee of PNC Bank who has been a long-time volunteer for United Way and several other community organizations, was named Volunteer of the Year.  

The Salvation Army of Grand Haven, a United Way community partner agency, received the Nonprofit Pinnacle of Partnership Award. United Way Director of Community Impact Liz DeLaLuz updated Celebration guests on the progress of United Way’s work in the community and honored community investment volunteers with 3-year and 5-year service awards.

Among other successes celebrated at Tuesday’s event, United Way applauded individuals and teams for their hard work and ingenuity. Denise Dhuse of Ottawa Area Intermediate School District received the Joe Martella Above and Beyond Award. This award is given to a company campaign coordinator who finds new ways to emphasize the importance of, and add excitement to, his or her company’s workplace campaign.  United Way’s “Out of the Box” award for the most innovative company campaign was presented to Shape Corp. of Grand Haven. Nine Ottawa County companies and organizations—Children’s Advocacy Center, Consumers Energy, Fifth Third Bank, Grand Transformers, Inc., Greater Ottawa County United Way, The Holland Sentinel, JSJ Corp. Mercantile Bank, and Shape Corp. --were the recipients of the major Cappon & Bertsch Community Builder Award.  This award recognizes the companies that GIVE, ADVOCATE, and VOLUNTEER within the community and on behalf of United Way.

The prestigious G.W. Haworth Strength of the Community Award was presented to JSJ Corp. and its local businesses:  Dake, GHSP and izzy+. This award recognizes the organization and/or individual that exemplifies United Way’s leadership spirit of volunteering, philanthropy, and community problem-solving.  JSJ and its local businesses were honored for 93 years of giving back to the communities where they were founded, and for leadership support of United Way since its inception. Nelson Jacobson, President and CEO of JSJ, received the award on behalf of  “all the employees past and present who are responsible for our receiving this award.”

“United Way and its board, staff, and volunteers can’t thank our Ottawa County communities enough for their generosity and continuous dedication to making Ottawa County a great place to live and work,” said Moran. “Because of the partnership between investors, volunteers, and programs, we are able to put in place the building blocks of a better life for everyone in Ottawa County.”


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