Thank you for leading the United Way campaign at your company! As an Employee Campaign Chair, you are an invaluable partner with United Way of Central Iowa, engaging your organization in the fight for the health, education, and financial stability of all central Iowans.
This handbook is your basic guide for how to PREPARE, PLAN, CONDUCT, and CONCLUDE your company’s campaign. We offer you many ideas, strategies, and resources to help make your campaign a success. And remember, United Way staff and Loaned Executives are here to help in any way they can!
Every dollar given to United Way of Central Iowa is amplified through a collective impact model that unites our community in the fight for the health, education, and financial stability of all central Iowans. United Way of Central Iowa leads the fight in these ways:
We bring together donors, volunteers, businesses, nonprofits, faith-based, community leaders, government, experts, and those in need to address
challenges in the areas of education, income, and health. Together we work toward the community Goals for 2020.
We break each problem down to its root causes and, with our stakeholders, develop research-based, comprehensive strategies to make significant and sustainable progress toward our Goals for 2020.
Once the strategies are set, it’s time for action. We invest in or create initiatives designed to move us toward our community Goals for 2020. We
convene coalitions, advocate for public policy, raise awareness, and mobilize volunteers.
We create metrics and continuously evaluate the results of these investments, holding every initiative accountable to make real progress.
United Way of Central Iowa’s Goals for 2020 are not aspirations; they are destinations:
- Education – Increase the percentage of central Iowa students who graduate from high school to 95%
- Income – Increase the percentage of central Iowans who are financially self-sufficient to 75%
- Health – Increase central Iowa’s Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index score, a comprehensive measure of health, to 64.5
The funds raised by United Way of Central Iowa—more than $27 million in 2017—are invested in local programs and initiatives that tackle the most pressing challenges people in our community face, which is why people like you help determine how those dollars are invested.
Central Iowa experts in the areas of education, income, and health provide advice and direction on investment decisions. Corporate donors, community leaders, individuals from philanthropic and community organizations, and others carefully study each request for support. They select the local programs that best align with our strategies and have the highest performance outcomes to propel us to our Goals for 2020.
With thousands of nonprofits in Polk, Warren, and Dallas Counties, more than 50 volunteers and our Community Impact team at United Way have no small task identifying which programs align with our goals and strategies and will create the most lasting impact in our community. We currently fund 135 programs at 75 agencies.
Not Just Dollars
Each selected program receives funding, as well as advice and direction from the cabinet of local experts and access to resources and tools designed to help them be successful. Funded programs also receive specific goals and measures to achieve, and they are evaluated each year based on their progress toward those goals. This helps determine if funding will continue, increase, or decrease.
View the programs receiving funds from United Way of Central Iowa.
United Way of Central Iowa Signature Programming
CENTRAL IOWA HEALTHWORKS provides job training and support to about 300 central Iowans seeking careers in health care, knowing that 40 percent of central Iowa health care workers will be eligible to retire in 5-10 years. The program is being implemented in partnership with local employers, training providers, and community organizations.
UNITED WAY 2-1-1 is a three-digit helpline that connects people with the Call for Assistance help they need. It’s free, confidential, and available 24/7. Just like calling 9-1-1 for an emergency, 2-1-1 connects individuals with a trained professional who identifies local resources, including legal services, crisis intervention, disability and elderly services, food, employment, housing, mental health care, transportation, and more.
BRIDGES TO SUCCESS aims to help more than 10,000 central Iowans achieve a high school equivalency diploma by 2020. A high school graduate, throughout their lifetime, earns an average of $700,000 more than a high school dropout (National Center for Education Statistics). The initiative provides adult learners with free classes, coaching, testing, books, and a career coach to help students succeed and plan for their future. In 2017, United Way also successfully advocated for a state law that expands the ways to achieve a high school equivalency diploma.
OPPORTUNITY is a collective impact initiative focused on reducing poverty in central Iowa. Eight issue-focused work groups are identifying and creating new opportunities for low-income individuals to raise themselves out of poverty, and more than 2,000 nonprofits, businesses, and community members have signed on to support the plan. An updated plan was released in June 2018.
5-2-1-0 is a childhood obesity prevention program that focuses on promoting healthy habits at child care centers, schools, and health care clinics where kids spend a lot of time. The program encourages healthy habits through actions such as giving every child a water bottle, revising birthday celebration policies to have costume or smoothie parties instead of sugary treats, and purchasing equipment that allows teachers to incorporate movement into academic learning. In 2017, the program expanded to pediatric clinics.
CORPORATE ENGAGEMENT MANAGER
- A United Way staff member who engages with companies and individuals year-round, providing opportunities to learn more about United Way
- Assists companies with planning and executing United Way campaigns
- Conducts annual meeting with CEOs of companies participating in the annual campaign
- Supports the Loaned Executives
- Liaisons between United Way and ECCs
- Assists ECC with campaign management
- Presents the LIVE UNITED story at organizations’ campaign rallies and events
- Provides resources and delivers materials
- Attends campaign events
- Helps wrap up the campaign and picks up donations,
EMPLOYEE CAMPAIGN CHAIR (ECC)
- Your organization’s essential point of contact between your organization and United Way of Central Iowa
- Knows how best to incorporate the campaign into organizational culture
- Assembles and manages the organization’s campaign team
- Tracks campaign progress and keeps the CEO and senior leadership informed
- Fills out and submits the pledge envelope(s) and all final reporting
United Way of Central Iowa’s Leadership Circle recognizes our community’s most committed individuals and families, the game-changers who annually contribute $1,000 or more to United Way.
Leadership Circle contributions advance the common good in our community, improving lives by focusing on health, education, and financial stability. These are the building blocks for a good life: a quality education that leads to a stable job, enough income to support a family through retirement, and good health. Together, Leadership Circle members inspire hope for all central Iowans and create a better tomorrow for our community.
Donors can give to United Way of Central Iowa at a leadership level to join the Leadership Circle, or donate to one of our affinity groups.
Women United, formerly knows as Women’s Leadership Connection or WLC, members believe all children should start school ready to learn. Graduation from high school is an 18-year journey, beginning at birth. Women United
invests in research-based strategies to ensure that children are ready for kindergarten—the first step in that journey.
Since 2002, Women United contributions have exceeded $20 million to improve the network of care and learning,
giving young children the foundation to succeed at school. More than 600 of central Iowa’s most generous and
influential women give their time, voices, and resources to support quality early learning and provide opportunities for those who need it most.
A membership in Women United includes:
- Seeing firsthand how your investment improves young children’s lives in central Iowa
- Networking with like-minded women
- Being a part of a nationally-recognized group of dedicated female philanthropists
Education Leadership Initiative
Education Leadership Initiative (ELI) members believe in central Iowa youth. Through their financial contributions,
volunteer service, and advocacy, ELI members ensure that students are supported during middle school and successfully make the transition from middle to high school to succeed through graduation—a building block for a good life. ELI’s work aligns with United Way of Central Iowa’s education goal to improve the percentage of central Iowa students who graduate from high school to 95% by the year 2020.
A membership in ELI includes:
- Seeing firsthand how your investment improves the lives of youth in central Iowa
- Networking with like-minded community leaders
- Meeting central Iowa’s most influential business leaders
LINC (Lead. Impact. Network. Change.)
LINC is a “do-good” time for young professionals looking to get more engaged in service in our community. LINC engages young professionals ages 30 and under with a variety of service and professional development opportunities throughout the year. A LINC membership requires an annual gift of at least $250. LINC funds help support United Way of Central Iowa’s Essential Needs investment priority, which addresses central Iowans’ access to basic needs such as food and shelter before they can make advancements in their health, education, and financial stability.
The Tocqueville Society recognizes the generosity of individuals and families contributing at the highest levels of
personal giving. These caring philanthropists exemplify an outstanding commitment to improving the quality of life in our community. Tocqueville is based on combined household giving; the starting commitment is $5,000 the first year, $7,500 the second year, and $10,000 the third year and thereafter. Giving through United Way as a Tocqueville member helps elevate an individual’s giving across the
As the Employee Campaign Chairperson (ECC) for your organization, you—and the co-worker team you assemble—are the centerpiece of your United Way campaign. You will make a difference in central Iowa when you put together an engaging, meaningful, and FUN workplace-centered campaign.
Here’s how to get started:
- Learn about United Way of Central Iowa and the community’s Goals for 2020 in Education, Income, and Health.
- Participate in United Way’s visit with your CEO so you are connected to the goals set for your workplace campaign.
- Meet with your CEO to discuss campaign goals, secure his/her endorsement, request permission to make presentations, offer incentives to donors, and confirm a corporate match or specific gift.
- Meet with your Loaned Executive to discuss how they can help support you and your company’s campaign.
- Recruit your Campaign Committee; reach out to diverse departments.
- Assign specific tasks to your team and schedule periodic planning and progress meetings.
- Attend a United Way of Central Iowa Campaign Connect meeting to learn how to run a great campaign.
- Visit the Campaign Tool Kit page for ideas and best practices.
- Analyze the previous year’s campaign results.
- Set new goals, timelines, and strategies, including goals for total donations, participation levels, special event dollars raised, and other measures of success.
- Determine campaign theme and length that works best for your organization.
- Make your campaign engaging by developing a fun theme and tying it back to United Way’s mission.
- Develop leadership giving strategies to engage donors in Education Leadership Initiative (ELI), Women United, Tocqueville Society, and LINC (Lead. Impact. Network. Change.).
- Review campaign print materials and other resources available on United Way’s campaign website.
- Set a rally schedule and invite your Loaned Executive to speak.
- Plan and schedule special events and fundraisers. (See a list of great ideas is available here.)
- Consider running a raffle to engage your co-workers while raising additional funds for the campaign.
- Request banners, balloons, posters, stickers, and more from your Loaned Executive to decorate rallies and informational displays.
- Meet periodically with your Loaned Executive to review planning decisions and secure their commitment to attend your festivities.
- Educate employees by promoting your campaign through a kick-off event, presentation rallies, and other scheduled special events.
- Send a customized kick-off email to employees based on the template United Way provided.
- Include incentives for attendance, participation, donations, and reaching departmental or organizational goals.
- Use a multimedia approach, including periodic emails, videos, intranet content, social media posts, voicemails, pay stub inserts, posters, and displays—any place that’s convenient to reach your co-workers. Find content in the Campaign Toolkit.
- Hold one or more presentation rallies with a Loaned Executive or other United Way representative to discuss the goals and new initiatives.
- Bring employees together for a themed meal or in smaller groups, such as by department.
- Highlight an organizational spokesperson (CEO, other senior leadership, or campaign team member) who can provide a personal anecdote as to why the United Way campaign is important to them.
- Have your CEO encourage leadership givers to join the Tocqueville Society, Education Leadership Initiative, or Women United.
- Share information about LINC for young professionals.
- Provide campaign brochures for every rally attendee, with other pertinent handouts.
- Provide details on how the pledge process works at your organization.
- Utilize United Way-produced videos, emails, and stories. Find them in the Campaign Toolkit.
- Specifically ask co-workers to participate by donating, volunteering, or advocating.
- Participate in Day of Action volunteering or any United Way or workplace-sponsored community action
activities. Examples: assembling Literacy Kits, reading to third graders, preparing and serving a meal at a shelter.
- Follow up with employees and past donors; reminders are often appreciated.
- Account for all off-site employees, new hires, and retirees; follow up with employees returning from maternity leave, vacation, disability, and travel.
- Update your co-workers and CEO on your progress toward established goals.
- Keep your Loaned Executive involved and informed.
- Consider final push and close-out strategies to encourage last-minute commitments.
- Always recognize donors. Show them the impact of their contribution on the community, and encourage them to stay engaged with United Way’s efforts.
- Write a thank you message in your organization’s newsletter.
- Plan a thank you event and invite everyone to attend.
- Send a letter or email from you and your CEO or senior leadership thanking every employee for their contribution
- Send a customized email based on the template provided by United Way in the Campaign Toolkit.
- Thank your campaign team.
- Critique and document the campaign to ensure that next year’s campaign goes smoothly with your internal committee and Loaned Executive.
- Fill out the pledge envelope and arrange for your Loaned Executive to pick it up, along with any surplus campaign materials. Do not wait for all campaign pledges to be gathered before turning in the envelope. Turn in multiple envelopes as pledges come in to ensure rapid processing of your co-worker’s pledge and the company’s results.
- Develop a year-round United Way program with newsletter articles chronicling community impact, volunteer opportunities and agency tours, orientation sessions for new employees, and more. Be creative while working within your organizational culture.
- Invite your United Way representative to speak to employees at any time during the year
Find all the messages, materials, and resources you need to support your campaign here.Return to Table of Contents
Organizations have different cultures, numbers of employees, locations, and other details that affect the length and focus of their United Way campaign. Assess what will work best for your workplace, and begin planning based on those parameters. Don’t forget to include time for advocacy and volunteer activities; both are an important part of your campaign.
Ideally, campaigns lasting two weeks have a good balance of impact and length. One exciting kick-off rally and/or 3-4 smaller rallies should provide your co-workers with the key information they need to make a donation decision within the campaign timeframe.
Shorter campaigns of a few days to one week can work when you are organized and have a track record of campaign
success. These organizations likely have a highly engaged CEO and a strong connection to the community. You may hold one all-encompassing rally or 1-2 smaller rallies.
Larger organizations that need more time to engage a larger workforce can expect to hold between 5-10 rallies (or more for the largest corporations) and/or 2-3 special events. Spreading the fun over two weeks (or slightly longer) often works best in your organizational culture.
Here’s is a brief timeline highlighting steps in your planning and execution phases:
5-6 Weeks Out
- Review last year’s performance and campaign materials.
- Seek guidance for this year’s campaign goals from the CEO.
- Attend a Campaign Connect meeting or meet with United Way campaign staff.
- Start recruiting your internal campaign team and hold the first meeting.
- Educate your team members on United Way’s role in the community.
3-4 Weeks Out
- Develop a campaign plan.
- Decide on a theme and incentives, plus set kick-off and campaign wrap-up dates, volunteer activities, etc.
- Set a rally schedule, an agenda, and locations.
- Assign responsibilities and tasks to team members.
- Meet with your Loaned Executive and review and refine campaign details.
- Begin your leadership giving campaign; ask United Way staff to assist in identifying and soliciting leadership givers.
- Continue meeting with your campaign team.
1-2 Weeks Out
- Create energy, awareness, and passion.
- Begin publicizing your campaign (posters, emails, flyers, employee newsletter.)
- Send a CEO letter or email endorsing the campaign to all employees.
- Talk about United Way, the benefits of giving, and your kick-off event to your co-workers.
- Review all plans for event kick-off and pledging period with your campaign team.
- Host your campaign kick-off event.
- Send a campaign kick-off email.
- Hold rallies, events, volunteer projects, etc.
- Distribute campaign materials during rallies, by email, and/or through your organization’s website or online portal.
- Communicate progress to your Loaned Executive.
- Collect pledge cards and hold drawings and giveaways for participating employees.
- Be available to your campaign team and all employees to answer questions.
- Submit pledge envelopes with non payroll gifts—such as cash, checks, and credit cards—on a weekly basis during the campaign. (You can submit multiple envelopes throughout your campaign.)
- Collect all remaining pledges and corporate contributions.
- Arrange for the CEO to communicate the campaign’s success and thank employees. Or send a customized thank you based on the template provided by United Way.
- Contact your Loaned Executive, and schedule a pickup of pledge envelopes and excess materials.
- Document the campaign for next year’s ECC.
- Thank your campaign team.
Submit pledge envelopes as soon as possible.
- United Way can cash checks and charge
credit cards in a timely manner.
- It reduces your risk associated with storing cash and sensitive employee information in your office.
Questions? Call Pledge Processing at 515-246-6572.
This sample agenda covers a 15-20 minute rally, but it can be adjusted in any way that best fits your timeframe and campaign goals.
- Why I Support United Way: 2 minutes
- Share a story of why you choose to LIVE UNITED
- Might run a United Way or
- United Way’s Role Within the Community: 5-7 minutes
United Way representative/Loaned Executive
- Talks about what United Way of Central Iowa does
- Talks about what United Way of Central Iowa does
- Impact of Contributions: 3-5 minutes
United Way representative/Loaned Executive
- Tell the United Way story/program
- Highlight real life stories
- Might run a United Way video
- Recap and Soft Ask: 1-2 minutes
United Way representative/Loaned Executive
- Ties it all together
- Leadership Ask, Next Steps, and Thank You:
- Pledge process (forms or online)
- Recap of last year’s campaign
- Goals for this year’s campaign
- Employee campaign
- Corporate match or contribution
- Participation rewards, raffle drawings, etc.
- Thank you!
- Time it right. Choose a campaign timeline that best fits your organization’s activity level and allows your fellow employees and leadership to be most engaged. The length of the campaign also is a key
- Get high-level buy-in. Leadership donors can drive a campaign’s success by creating momentum. When the CEO and senior management are the first to give, others will follow their example. Suggest that a special leadership-giving chairperson be assigned to target those able to give at a higher level.
- Advocate for corporate match. Connect corporate giving to employee giving by creating a corporate challenge match for employee donations.
- Be visible. Get on the agenda for scheduled organization-wide events, department meetings, or other company gatherings. Plan these
presentations in advance of the full campaign. Be prepared.
- Participate in Day of Action. Scheduled in the fall when most campaigns are in full swing, the event is a great opportunity to see United Way’s work in action. People in our community need your help. This is how you show your employees the impact they can have.
- Kick off strong and create incentives. A launch event sets the tone for the campaign. This is a great time to announce incentives, contests, and drawings.
- Make it personal. A personalized ask is best, particularly from a friend or colleague. Use personal connections and knowledge in emails and all campaign communications.
- Promote. Publicize. Plan. Raise awareness of United Way’s work. Send email updates. Be a presence on your company’s intranet. Form a
committee. You can count on United Way for support and advice on your publicity and marketing efforts.
- Thank and celebrate. Acknowledge those who help. Involve and recruit others who share your commitment. Thank them again and again. These actions are a big part of making your current campaign a success—and setting the stage for next year’s.
- LIVE UNITED! Opportunities to LIVE UNITED don’t end when your campaign does. Let your colleagues know about ongoing, year-round opportunities to volunteer in the community and advocate for issues through United Way.
Themes help create excitement and energy for the campaign and are used to drive results. Finding a good way to connect campaign fun with the United Way mission ensures a well-rounded campaign. Examples include:
- Live United
- Company milestone or anniversary
- Reality TV – Amazing Race, American Idol
- Carnival theme with dunk tanks, etc.
- Driving results – car/race theme
- Game show
- Hawaiian – luau
- Hollywood – movies, Oscars, walk of fame
- Power of giving/Power of One
- Iowa/Iowa State/UNI/Drake
- Travel/around the world
- Wild, wild west
- 60’s, 70’s, 80’s
- Halloween, Thanksgiving or any holiday
- Back to prom
- Mexican fiesta
- Old Hollywood
- Game night
- Masquerade ball
- Trivia night
- Grilled cheese cook-off (or any easy-to -make food)
- Make your best dish potluck
- Denim and diamonds
- All one color (all red)
- In the barnyard
- Game On
- Back to School
Special events can be used to raise awareness of the campaign and are held as kick-off or wrap-up events. Since these funds come to United Way of Central Iowa anonymously, we cannot recognize individuals or provide tax receipts for special event dollars. Consider holding one or more of the following:
- Jeans Day – “sell” jeans day coupons for a certain dollar amount
- Bake sales/basket sales/craft sales
- Breakfast or lunch potluck – each person brings a dish and then pays to eat
- Chili cook-off – each person buys a ticket allowing them one vote
- Basket auction – teams create themed baskets that are then auctioned
- Balloon grams – for $1, send a thank you/best wishes balloon to fellow employees
- Ice cream social
- Cake walk
- Team/department challenges
- Managers serve breakfast or lunch
- Book/garage sale – sell donated books/items
- Car wash – senior management washes cars
- Dunk the CEO or senior leadership
- Golf tournaments
- Raffles for donated items
- Silent auction – use email to auction off donated items
- Cake- or cookie-decorating contests
Many organizations provide incentives tied to their campaign goals. A large budget is not necessary for incentives: There are many free incentives you can offer to employees for participating in the campaign. These items can also be donated and used in silent auctions or raffles.
- Gift cards – retail, gas, oil change, etc.
- Personal day off
- Sleep-in passes
- Long lunch passes
- Early-out passes
- Chair massages
- Jeans/casual day passes
- Covered/close parking
- Tickets to sports events
- Tickets to cultural events
- Company gear and logo items
- Free lunch passes
- Weekend at vacation home/unused time share
- Lunch with CEO or senior leadership
- Challenges among departments
- Embarrass an executive
- Honor wall
- Services offered by co-workers, such as baby sitting, auto repair, piano or golf lessons
- Raffle tickets for attending campaign events and handing in pledge forms (your Loaned
Running a United Way campaign in your workplace can be challenging, rewarding, and a great way to bond as a team, while helping improve lives in central Iowa. Here is a summary of the resources and materials available to you. Even more details are available when you visit the campaign toolkit.
This BEST PRACTICES GUIDE is a brief, high-level list of tips and tricks to get you started.
UNITED WAY MERCHANDISE STORE offers dozens of items available for purchase to help draw attention to your campaign and reward participation. From coffee mugs to water bottles, signs to brochures, lapel pins to plaques, it’s here.
BROCHURES that detail the campaign, our work, and ways to get involved can be requested from your United Way representative. The primary campaign brochure is a “must-read” for everyone in your organization.
CAMPAIGN VIDEOS can make a meaningful impression as they vividly highlight real-life success stories. Choose videos that:
- Give an introduction to United Way and why your pledge matters
- Provide personal testimonies from clients that have overcome challenges with the help of United Way
- Explain United Way’s work
POSTERS can be downloaded or are available from your United Way representative.
SAMPLE COMMUNICATIONS are pre-written templates to help you craft emails, letters, presentations, etc., for your workplace campaign. Don’t miss a review of these materials to help jumpstart your campaign.
OTHER RESOURCES include:
- Social Media Guide
- Fact-A-Day content
- Your Gift Matters handout
PLEDGING MATERIALS plus instructions for how to fill them out (in Spanish too).
DIGITAL RESOURCES consist of facts and slides for social media, daily emails, or television displays.
- Social media content
- Intranet content
- Presentation slides
- Emails - kick off, thank you, and daily
The annual LIVE UNITED luncheon is United Way of Central Iowa’s single largest event, bringing together nearly 1,000 central Iowans who work hard each year to help us achieve our community goals. During the spring luncheon, we celebrate our successes and recognize individuals and organizations who have demonstrated their extraordinary commitment through Giving, Advocacy, and Volunteerism with the annual LIVE UNITED Awards.
Did your company shine in one or all of these categories? We want to hear about it. Nomination forms are available shortly after campaign season. Reach out to your Corporate Engagement Manager and let them know you are interested in submitting a nomination. Do you know a great individual who works hard to serve our community? Nominate them as well!
Live United Award Categories
IMPACT-MAKER: Awards that recognize organizations that speak out on behalf of (or educate others on) issues in one or more of United Way’s focus areas of health, education, and financial stability.
GAME-CHANGER: Awards that honor outstanding United Way workplace campaigns and their commitment to
creating opportunities for central Iowans.
HAND-RAISER: Awards that recognize an organization whose volunteer program and volunteer efforts have made significant impact in our community.
SPIRIT OF CENTRAL IOWA: This award goes out to one
company each year that exemplifies all three components—advocate, give, and volunteer—during its year-round
commitment to United Way and the central Iowa community.
IMPACT-MAKER: Awarded to one individual who has made significant contributions toward United Way’s mission through advocacy efforts using a variety of approaches.
HAND-RAISER: Recognizes one outstanding community volunteer whose unselfish and dedicated service made a significant impact in the community.
TRAIL-BLAZER: Awarded to one person who went above and beyond to make their United Way giving campaign successful.
United Way of Central Iowa has earned its 13th consecutive four-star rating—the highest available—from Charity Navigator, the nation’s largest independent evaluator of charities and nonprofit organizations. Charity Navigator’s four-star rating recognizes United Way’s sound fiscal management and commitment to accountability and transparency.
Charity Navigator evaluates nonprofits on a 100-point scale. United Way of Central Iowa earned a composite score of 99.26, including a 98.96 score for finances and a perfect 100 score for accountability and transparency. In achieving the ranking, United Way joins a select group: Only 1 percent of the more than 8,000 charities evaluated have achieved 10 or more consecutive four-star evaluations.
Through the power of 31,000 donors, 10,000 volunteers, 550 companies, 120 partner nonprofit agencies, and YOU—the ECC for your organization—we are helping our central Iowa neighbors become healthier, better educated, and more financially stable. As a result, the community where we live, work, and play becomes even better.
But there’s more to do.
When you prepare and plan today, we change lives here in