I joined Fran Weisberg, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Rochester, on March 3 to announce our 2016 United Way campaign goal: $25 million to help the Greater Rochester community thrive. With the commitment and generosity of the business community and thousands of local supporters, I believe we will deliver that $25 million when our campaign closes June 2.
For the first time in a decade, we are setting out to reverse the trend of lower goals and fewer dollars available to help people in need. As a community, it is essential that we achieve this goal for the thousands of people and families who are relying on our help and support this year.
The lower United Way goals in recent years had been reflective of a changing business landscape with the downsizing of some larger corporate supporters and a shift from traditional “big business” to smaller, more versatile industries. The shift in our local economy does not have to mean a decrease in our philanthropic investments, however. With each small business that opens its doors, and every company that diversifies its offerings, there are growing opportunities to engage with one another and United Way on shared goals and results for Greater Rochester. We all have a stake in the vitality of this community.
It is essential that we all work together to achieve the goals set forth by United Way. In 2015, more than 800 local business leaders agreed to join United Way to help our community, and we truly appreciate their ongoing support. With the thousands of companies and businesses in Rochester, we know there is more work to be done to connect others with the campaign this year.
At Paychex, partnership and service are among our core values. We believe that working together, we can make a difference for our clients, colleagues and our community. We also believe that our investment in creating an even better community is important to the success of our business. Studies show that a focus on philanthropy has a significant impact on business results, and ultimately, your bottom line. Practicing corporate social responsibility and supporting community-focused values show your clients and employees that you believe in the greater good.
Community philanthropy also influences talent recruitment and morale as companies with set philanthropic principles can be more attractive to prospective employees, and current staff are often more engaged with their work when they feel that they’re making a difference for their clients and community. There are also potential tax benefits and networking opportunities available with corporate support for United Way.
There are several simple ways to get involved with United Way to support the Greater Rochester community. Running an employee campaign is a great first step where leaders and staff can come together to raise money for local people in need. United Way’s Annual Day of Caring is coming up on May 12; this is great for team building and community betterment as more than 5,000 people come together to volunteer at projects across the community. You could also join the United Way DUBle Down Lip Sync Challenge—exercise your company’s lip syncing talent for a good cause. Check it out at uwrochester.org/DUBleDown.
Perhaps the most important question I have been asked about this year in my leadership role is, “Why United Way?”
I believe that donating to United Way of Greater Rochester is the most effective, efficient way to achieve solutions for our community’s most critical challenges. United Way’s strengths lie in investments and connections to create community results. I agreed to chair the 2016 United Way campaign because I believe in the power of collective generosity and United Way’s ability to identify, analyze, invest in, and evaluate the programs and services that your donations support.
The return on our investments speak for themselves: 97 percent of families avoid child maltreatment and neglect; students achieve GPA scores a full point higher than their peers; 250,000 hot meals are delivered to homebound individuals; 600 families avoid foreclosure. And so much more.
United Way also convenes the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative, and they’re embarking on the first year of implementation to begin reducing poverty in our region. Adult mentoring programs and early childhood supports are the first pilot projects to help individuals achieve self-sufficiency.
It will take everyone working together to achieve our goal for Greater Rochester. Please join United Way this year to make our community a brighter, stronger place where everyone can thrive.
Paychex Inc. president and CEO Martin Mucci is the 2016 United Way campaign chairman.
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