2014 marked the 50th Anniversary of formation of the United Appeal, which later became the United Way of Thunder Bay. This came about through a joint effort between the Port Arthur and Fort William Chambers of Commerce, the Port Arthur District Trades and Labour Welfare Committee and two Community Chests. We celebrated this anniversary at a number of events throughout the year.
With the opening of our new office in 2013, we were able to enjoy a new Boardroom that is being used at no fee by many organizations; in 2014 we were able to install much needed video and audio technology, through a very kind grant from the Thunder Bay Rotary Club (Fort William) of $10,611. This has enhanced the capabilities of the Boardroom for our United Way and other organizations using the facility.
In 2014 we received an Ontario Trillium Foundation grant for $149,500 to fund a two year project, Thunder Bay Counts. This initiative will better coordinate efforts and create a shared agenda for change that will address social issues in our community. Presently, the United Way is the project lead along with our collaborative partner the Northwestern Ontario Innovation Centre. The work is guided by a 56 member cross-sectoral Round Table that is chaired by Rebecca Johnson.
Our staff have installed an new state-of-the-art donor database that will allow us greater capacity in our annual campaign, as well as providing us with the ability to measure more effectively the impact of the funding we allocate to our community. Staff completed the first phase of campaign training on this system in 2014 and will continue to develop their expertise to maximize the software’s potential in 2015.
Our new website was launched in 2015 and our social media presence was enhanced with RBC Royal Bank offering to match the number of new “likes” we received on our Facebook page with a financial contribution during the 2014 campaign. In a short period, the number of people that engaged with us on Facebook doubled. This initiative was led by Campaign Chair Michael Nitz and is a major step for us in connecting with the younger generation of people in Thunder Bay.
The Ross B Judge Award of Excellence, the highest honour for past Board members, was established in 2014. The first recipient of the award was Tom
Boyle, Chair of the Allocations Committee and past Board member. Tom has, over many years, enhanced the allocation review process, developing excellent reporting mechanisms and effective methodology for making difficult decisions on where to disburse the limited funds available after each campaign. Under his leadership a team of 33 volunteers conducted meetings with our Funded Agencies and developed the funding recommendation for the upcoming year. Congratulations to Tom.
In December of 2014 the United Way Board of Director’s approved a Declaration of Intent that recognizes our wish to establish a strong and respectful relationship with the Aboriginal community in Thunder Bay. This Declaration of Intent was brought forward through the United Way Nishwaaswi Committee which is a standing committee of the Board of Directors.
The 2014 campaign, under the leadership of Michael Nitz, had a remarkable year and announced an achievement of $2,662,670 at the Campaign Celebration in February. Mike’s commitment to the campaign was inspirational, his communication strategy flawless. He motivated the Campaign Team to do their very best. Congratulations to Mike and the entire team for an amazing campaign which raised the largest total in our history!
The Campaign Team of staff and volunteers was augmented again this year by five fantastic Sponsored Employees provided this year by the City of Thunder Bay, Confederation College, Copperfin Credit Union, Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, and RBC Royal Bank. Thank you to these five great supporters of the United Way; our campaign could not have been the success it was without the help of this year’s Sponsored Employees.
This AGM marks the end of my term of President of the Board and I want to thank the members of the Board for their efforts over the past two years. We have made and continue to make some difficult decisions in moving the United Way in a positive direction toward improving our ability to reach out to more citizens in our community. I want to thank all our fantastic volunteers who make it possible for us to do so much for the community. I want to thank all the people who have donated to our campaign and finally I want to thank our amazing staff for all the tireless work they do throughout the year to make our United Way the best charity in Thunder Bay.
- Jules Tupker, President