The College launched its annual Dartmouth United Way fundraiser on Oct. 11, a corporate campaign to raise money for non-profit groups across most of New Hampshire and Windsor Country, Vermont. This year, the campaign aims to raise $275,500 for Granite United Way.
Granite United Way is an umbrella organization that provides a pathway for donor funds to smaller service organizations throughout the Upper Valley, raising money for three central focus areas: health, education and income. Among its beneficiaries are WISE, an enterprise aimed at preventing domestic abuse and sexual assault, and the Twin Pines Housing Trust, which provides housing for low-income families throughout the Upper Valley.
Granite United Way is most notable for its immediacy. According to the organization’s coordinators, the group prides itself on keeping all the fundraising within the Upper Valley ecosystem and placing power in the hands of local residents.
“There is a group of volunteers called a community impact committee, and they make the decisions about how much money is going to be placed in each of the focus areas,” said Rob Schultz, Granite United Way area director. “Then a different group of grand reviewers reviews all of the applications and makes decisions about how much money goes to each applicant.”
Schultz said that last year, Granite United Way funded 46 programs at 38 different nonprofits.
This year’s campaign is just one in a long-standing partnership between Dartmouth and Granite United Way. Schultz said that over the past 40 years, the Dartmouth campaign has emerged as Granite United Way’s largest in the Upper Valley region, providing the organization with crucial funds and manpower. Just last year, the College narrowly exceeded its goal of raising $295,000 by raising $295,509.
For the 2016-17 campaign, the College also aims to secure 200 new donors and develop an employee volunteer program that would encourage Dartmouth employees to donate their time to Granite United Way. The heads of Dartmouth United Way developed this year’s financial goal through their annual review process, which involves compiling feedback and donor estimates from different sections of the College, said Rick Mills, the 2016 United Way Steering Committee co-chair and Dartmouth’s executive vice president.
“In each division, whether it’s Tuck or Geisel, we let the coordinator for Granite United Way in that area take a look at last year, see what the opportunity is for this year and feed their recommendations back to us,” Mills said. “This, in turn, totals back into the Dartmouth number.”
Though most donations to Granite United Way are accumulated through corporate campaigns, individual donations and fundraising events also play a role in raising money.
One example of these events are football game fundraisers. On Sept. 17, the College enjoyed a victory against the University of New Hampshire at its home opener. The game drew 8,296 spectators, providing the College with opportunity for philanthropy. By contributing one dollar for every adult ticket sold, the College was able to raise $5,000 for Granite United Way. Deputy director of athletics Bob Ceplikas ’78 also highlighted the fundraiser’s role in raising awareness of Granite United Way on campus.
“It occurred to us that we could give the campaign a lot of visibility by promoting it on the video board throughout the game and by honoring a local United Way volunteer on the field in front of thousands of community members,” he said.
To many Granite United Way organizers, awareness is the most crucial aspect of the campaign. Coordinators both at Dartmouth and Granite United Way, including Mills and Schultz, said they urge Dartmouth students to engage with their community and note the work that still needs to be done throughout the region on major issues such as poverty and drug addiction.
Schultz stressed the need for compassion, saying that “we need to stand together as a community in the Upper Valley, and that includes Dartmouth College. How can we take care of each other?”