United Way kicks off workplace fundraising campaign at UCSC

UCSC is an essential part of the campaign, which aims to raise $1 million this year.

The economic slump has increased the urgency of the United Way's latest campaign, and the UCSC community is stepping up to help.

Last year, UCSC affiliates raised more than $53,000 for the independent nonprofit organization, which served an estimated 75,000 local people in 2011.

The United Way raises and invests money from individuals as well as corporations, helping the organization team up with dozens of area programs and other nonprofits selected by donors.

UCSC's workplace campaign, which runs November 1-11, is a critical part of the United Way's countywide fundraising effort and its $1 million fundraising goal this year.

Over the years, UCSC has been "an unbelievably reliable source of contributions to the United Way," said Anne Cawley, United Way's director of community giving and marketing.

For years, UCSC has been holding steady as the fourth-largest workplace contributor in the county. Cawley also mentioned the large number of longtime donors among UCSC's staff and faculty members.

Last year, more than 250 UCSC community members gave to the campaign, said Donna Murphy, vice chancellor for University Relations.

"That makes a very powerful statement," Murphy said. "We're part of the community, and we know the importance of the safety net of programs that United Way provides as we navigate the economic downturn and strive to keep Santa Cruz County a great place to live and work. I think our campus community has a very strong feeling of shared responsibility."

Murphy, who served as the co-chair of two consecutive United Way campaigns, said she gives to the United Way because it's one way of making a tangible difference. "I've seen the direct, immediate impact United Way makes through support of programs that serve young and old, help assure health for all, help families gain economic stability, and work to assure the success and well being of all children. One gift touches all segments of the community," she said.

United Way's impact on Santa Cruz County is both immediate and long-term.

While providing a safety net for families in need, the United Way works to achieve long-term changes.

Partner agencies guide families toward financial stability, ensure that children will succeed at school and life, and help children and adults receive quality health care. Meanwhile, the 211 health and human services hotline, which has been available for the past year, offers immediate help to residents in need, including those who have never asked for help before and aren't sure where to turn.

To make a donation to United Way of Santa Cruz County, go to United Way's UCSC web page to download a pledge form. Donation envelopes have been sent to campus mailboxes.

Those who have signed up in a previous year for a payroll deduction do not have to make any changes; payroll deductions automatically renew for 2011.