Thursday, November 02, 2006

Campaign means waiting

Yesterday was our second count. A count is when we gather all the company envelopes that have been turned in to banks and our office, check and record what they have raised. We have two finance volunteers help our two staff members count the contents of all the envelopes. We record the contributions: how many payroll deductions, checks, cash, special events, count what's in the envelope, record it on the campaign envelope, count sheet and deposit slip. Then we double check everything.

Last year, at our third count, one company turned in a special event that had a lot of coins. Counting more than a $100 worth of coins leaves an impact on you. Jeanne and I laughed at our finance member groaning each time she made a pile of 100 pennies. We both had been there ourselves. And later that morning, we had to count that same bag of coins to make sure that we recorded the right number.

A count that takes a long time has the potential to be good ... or bad. Good because it means there were a lot of donations. Bad because we didn't balance--have the same amount on our sheets compared to money in.

After our counts, it's the waiting game. Then Jeanne comes back to the office to enter all the information, calculate percent increases and losses. After each count I send an update to our campaign volunteers who distribute envelopes to businesses and a press release to the radio and paper.

Yesterday I got the "shell" ready. I laid out the basic bones of the updates, wrote what I could. But now I wait.

We do more waiting then you might think during campaign. We start preparing for campaign season in February when we discuss our theme, ideas for the year. We work on the video and program funding is decided in April and May. June and July is the heavy lifting finding Pacesetters, preparing their materials and ordering our campaign supplies. August the Pacesetters start their campaigns and we begin presentations. I spend two or three months of this time researching, interviewing and writing articles.

But now, most campaigns have started. All the materials are ordered ... we're running out of some. Once we had about eight campaign presentations a week, now we're down to maybe two.

It's the waiting game. Waiting for campaigns to come in with totals, waiting for updates about who's down and by how much--or who had a spectacular year. Each day is different.

One Executive Director from a small United Way in Illinois said through our United Way listserv during campaign time each day was like Christmas morning. I never remembered Christmas being so stressful.

Campaign is exciting ... going into companies, meeting new people, seeing fun ideas and creative events. It's also heart warming to see the effort people bring to their campaigns and their contribution. Our communities really understand the good they do by contributing. We work very hard all year long--not just during September through December--making sure we're getting results and making positive change in our community.

But today, I wait.