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U of R United Way campaign success underscores importance of community support on campus

By University Advancement and Communications Posted: January 21, 2021 3:00 p.m.

Faculty, staff, and retirees of the University of Regina came together in support of the annual United Way campaign, which was able to bring in $97,361 for deserving local charities. The campaign was a success despite the challenges of fundraising during a pandemic.
Faculty, staff, and retirees of the University of Regina came together in support of the annual United Way campaign, which was able to bring in $97,361 for deserving local charities. The campaign was a success despite the challenges of fundraising during a pandemic. Photo: United Way Regina Facebook

At a time when Canadians are being much more careful with their spending, members of the University of Regina community have shown their generosity and stepped up to help make the community a better place.
 
The annual U of R campaign in support of United Way Regina recently wrapped up and far exceeded its initial fundraising goal of $85,000. Although asking for money from faculty, staff, and retirees during a pandemic posed some additional challenges, campaign organizers were thrilled to complete the campaign with a remarkable total of $97,361 – surpassing the previous year’s total of $95,000. 
 
Constance Hammermeister, Administrator and Survey Committee Coordinator with the Office of Institutional Research at the U of R, has been part of the University’s United Way Campaign since joining the institution a decade ago. As a member of many successful past campaigns, Hammermeister knew that it would be challenging to carry out fundraising efforts in a remote working environment.
 
“So much of the success of the campaign involves campaign ambassadors engaging their peers with in-person events like the cheesecake sale, taco in a bag, and raffles for Rider tickets,” says Hammermeister. “Our committee was quite concerned as to how we would be able to carry out the campaign this year.”
 
Even with the many challenges, Hammermeister credits the longstanding relationship between the U of R and the United Way as motivation for the committee to encourage and inspire their peers to give back.
 
“It has to be the people,” says Hammermeister. “Our committee, the University Leadership Team, and our faculty and staff know how important the work of the United Way is within the community.”
 
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many not-for-profit organizations have been stretched thin while seeing a rise in demand for services. An increasing amount of families throughout the city are relying on the United Way, and support for the organization is critical to helping those in need during a particularly challenging time.

“We never doubted our U of R family, but at a time when people are reducing their personal spending, it was inspiring that people we worked with were keenly aware of how essential the campaign was this year to the community,” says Hammermeister.
 
Giving back has become an integral part of the U of R identity, and recent fundraising efforts have been very successful in engaging our internal community to experience the power of giving. In 2020, the Big Hearts Family Giving campaign was supported by 400 U of R faculty, staff, and retirees who gave more than $630,000 of their own hard-earned money back to the institution. One of the largest beneficiaries of Big Hearts Family Giving Campaign was the Student Emergency Fund which provided 345 students with more than $350,000 to help pay for necessities like housing and groceries.
 
“COVID-19 may have brought a plight for the world to share, but it also made many of us reflect and appreciate our individual personal wealth,” says Hammermeister. “People who were in a position to donate realized how fortunate we are to be living and working in Regina, and they were very responsive!”
 
Dr. Thomas Chase, Interim President and Vice-Chancellor, notes that support of initiatives like the U of R’s United Way campaign and Big Hearts both defines the University and makes an impact in the wider community.

“It is inspiring to be part of an organization in which so many colleagues contribute to the communities that surround and support us,” says Chase. “This culture of philanthropy is evident at our University, and is very much aligned with our strategic plan's vision of building an institution that reflects the world in which we want to live.”
 
The importance of community support was even the motivation to create a new fund for students. In October, the Student Success Fund was launched to provide scholarships and awards to U of R students who not only excel academically, but help to make their community a better place. To date, more than $76,658 has been donated by 208 supporters and counting.

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