Revamped United Way campaign expected to reap record funds

Yale’s administrators and union leaders are collaborating for the first time this year on fundraising for Yale’s annual United Way campaign.

Each year, Yale runs a United Way campaign to raise money for the New Haven community, and officials are hoping the new cooperation will net record donations, said Director of Marketing for the Office of New Haven and State Affairs Shana Schneider ’00.

Efforts have been made to improve campaign publicity with a “person-to-person” approach to achieve the goal of raising more than last year’s $1 million, officials said. The campaign is lead by Vice President for the Office of New Haven and State Affairs Bruce Alexander and Laura Smith, President of Local 34, a labor union that represents University clerical and technical employees.

“This is the first year that the campaign has been co-chaired by someone from the administration and someone from the labor union,” Schneider said. “This will help achieve the goal of communication with more members of the community.”

United Way is a national organization with over 1,000 local chapters that promotes community-level fundraising. Money raised in the Yale United Way campaign will help support emergency shelters, affordable housing, employment training, after-school programs and many other efforts for the benefit of the New Haven community.

“The United Way helps to provide essential services to the most vulnerable members of our community,” Alexander said in an e-mail. “Especially important are United Way-supported youth programs, such as those that mentor young people and provide after-school programs.”

Charles DeMartin, a Davenport dining hall employee and a member of Local 35, the labor union that represents University service and maintenance employees, said he has received letters about the campaign. He said he is glad the labor unions are involved in the campaign but that he is not sure how the campaign costs are regulated.

“Any charity work is excellent,” DeMartin said. “But I bet they spend a ton of time and money on things like the mailings.”

This year, Yale is focusing on a person-to-person approach to encourage giving throughout the community, Alexander said.

“Because faculty, staff and students live busy lives and are bombarded with so much information on a daily basis, the United Way Campaign this year has focused on communication between colleagues instead of mass e-mails as a strategy to get the word out about the United Way,” Alexander said.

In order to facilitate this direct fundraising approach, leaders were identified throughout the university — from the President’s Office to the grounds work crews — and these leaders were called on to disseminate information about the campaign and to promote community participation, Schneider said. Among the leaders are Yale College Dean Peter Salovey, Graduate School Dean Jon Butler and Dean of the School of Medicine Robert Alpern, each of whom wrote letters to members of their offices, Alexander said.

Alexander said campaign leaders are also trying to engage Yale’s students by advertising in student publications and putting up posters throughout campus. They have also contacted the Yale College Council and the Graduate and Professional Student Senate in order to promote the campaign.

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