By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
The season of giving has arrived and while the pandemic might have prevented some people from donating, others have stepped up to answer the call. Recently, the UW Credit Union was praised for its fundraising efforts and named “Game Changer” by the United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County.
This year, UW Credit Union employees raised more than $32,000 for the Milwaukee area as part of its annual fundraising campaign – Community Giving. The effort coincides with Giving Tuesday, a global movement dedicated to encouraging people to donate to organizations that help those in need. Giving Tuesday is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Paul Kundert, the CEO of UW Credit Union, said the organization has been aligned with the United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County and United Way Dane County for years. While the credit union’s donations aren’t limited to Giving Tuesday, the organization made sure to make a concerted effort this year given the coronavirus pandemic.
“The needs are surging in our community especially with government aid coming to an end,” Kundert said.
Kundert said that the credit union was in a stable position to stand up and help other organizations. There is a greater need this year and less people able to help, he said, adding that its important people take stock of their own situation to determine if they’re in a position to donate.
The UW Credit Union reassured employees that the company had no intention of cutting back on jobs or benefits. Kundert believes that this reassurance encouraged more employees to take the pledge and donate. As a result, the corporation saw a 24% increase in employee pledges compared to last year.
The corporation also pledged to match employees’ donations, Kundert said, and double matched first-time pledgers.
As part of its Community Giving Campaign, the corporation holds fundraising events. Typically, there is a chili-off, but given the current state of affairs, the cook-off was canceled in favor of virtual events, Kundert said.
Instead, the corporation held a “Masked Singer” competition where employees donned a mask and sang a song while their co-workers voted on who they thought was behind it. Employees also participated in a virtual auction, where they could bid on items such as a weekend at a fellow employee’s lake house.
The virtual events were a lot of fun, and didn’t require any in-person gathering, Kundert said. He added that the virtual approach was more flexible and gave all employees an opportunity to participate.
Aside from the campaign, the corporation strives to invest in the community. Last year, it gave a million dollars in community investments, Kundert said. Normally, the corporation rents school buses and during their lunch break, employees can visit the organizations which the corporation helps fund.
This year, employees were given the option of taking virtual tours. While Kundert believes the in-person connection encourages more engagement, he was proud the corporation found an innovative way to continue that connection.
Kundert hopes that corporation’s contribution will continue to help United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County and United Way Dane County.
It has been a challenging time, he said, but he hopes amidst the struggle people continue to be generous and compassionate. This is an opportunity to be charitable, and that’s the story Kundert hopes people tell, not one of struggle but one of compassion and generosity.
To donate to United Way Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County, visit www.unitedwaygmwc.org/donate and take the pledge.