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Get on board with United Way

The national organization needs our support. GM Financial is all aboard.

2014, United Way, GM Financial

Since the early '90s, GM Financial has supported United Way with charitable contributions through outreach like our Signature Event series. With our 2014 campaign underway, team members across the company are busy purchasing raffle tickets, submitting pledge forms and volunteering to help the international organization.

So, what is United Way, and what does it support?

Essentially, United Way is a nonprofit that supports other nonprofits. Think of it like a university. Your tuition is paid to the university that then disperses those funds through its many departments and colleges based on size, needs and services. Each United Way chapter selects several dozen agencies to support as "cooperating agencies," which it then assists with financial contributions based on the agency’s annual objectives, community reach and service areas.

While many of United Way's cooperating agencies may be familiar to you — Boys & Girls Club, Red Cross, YMCA — many others are much smaller organizations that specifically serve your community. Many of these organizations — like Lena Pope Home in Tarrant County, Ada Jenkins Center, the Peterborough Youth Services and Save the Family Foundation of Arizona — greatly depend on the continued financial support received from United Way.

"What's great about United Way is that each chapter supports the local community by funding cooperating agencies that are meaningful to the people in that specific community," explained Trish Jones, Senior Vice President Community Investment. "When you donate to United Way, your dollars are more likely to directly impact your family, friends and neighbors."

In fact, in most communities, United Way is the largest investor in local health and human services. That's why, with GM Financial and its team members contributing over $250,000 to the organization last year, we're especially committed to making a significant local impact.

"United Way is a good fit for GM Financial, because we are already a big supporter of many of the cooperating agencies United Way assists — like Big Brothers Big Sisters and Salvation Army," said Dan Berce, President and Chief Executive Officer.

But, how did United Way get started?

Let's rewind to 1887. A Denver woman, priest, two ministers and a rabbi recognized the need for cooperative action to address Denver’s growing welfare problems. Frances Wisebart Jacobs, Reverend Myron Reed, Monseigneurs William O'Ryan and Dean Martyn Hart and Rabbi William Friedman put their heads together to plan the first united campaign to support 10 health and welfare agencies. The united group's organization collected funds for local charities, coordinated relief services and counseling and referred clients to cooperating agencies. More than 127 years later, United Way is an international organization serving the needs of communities in 45 countries across the globe.

Every 10 years, the organization evaluates community needs and selects three core goals. Since 2008, United Way of America's goals are: education, income and health. According to the organization's mission statement, "United Way envisions a world where all individuals and families achieve their human potential through education, income stability and healthy lives. United Way improves lives by mobilizing the caring power of communities around the world to advance the common good."

The organization encourages education, income and health equality by setting the following quantitative objectives that they hope to achieve by 2018.

  • Learn Well: Improve education, and cut the number of high school dropouts — 1.2 million students, every year — in half.
  • Earn Well: Help people achieve financial stability, and get 1.9 million working families — half the number of lower-income families who are financially unstable — on the road to economic independence.
  • Live Well: Promote healthy lives, and increase by one-third the number of youth and adults who are healthy and avoid risky behaviors.

For United Way Canada, or Centraide Canada, these three focus areas are moving people out of poverty, promoting healthy people and communities, and encouraging child development.

That's where you come in.

Over the past several years and corresponding campaigns, GM Financial has become a responsible community partner by supporting United Way of Tarrant County, Valley of the Sun United Way serving the Phoenix metro area, United Way Central Carolinas for our Charlotte team members and United Way of Peterborough & District in Canada. More than likely, we've got your local chapter covered.

Jack Murphy is a Campaign Associate with United Way of Tarrant County who has worked with GM Financial on the past eight campaigns. Murphy retired from Kraft Foods in 2002 and volunteers much of his spare time as a Campaign Associate to help corporations like ours with their annual campaigns.

"From your employees to management, GM Financial is committed to supporting United Way. That's what impresses me about the company," Murphy said. "Every year, we hear stories about how United Way directly impacts your employees, and those stories are heart-warming. I love to go back to the United Way office and retell the stories I hear about how we’re making a difference."

In fact, GM Financial has quite the reputation for supporting the community. You may remember a story published in GMF Daily in March when GM Financial hosted a senior leadership team from Equifax. Equifax's senior leadership team was visiting Dallas and reached out to GM Financial in order to gain a better understanding of our business and the products we use in the auto finance market. Our long-time business partner made a cash donation to United Way of Tarrant County on behalf of GM Financial as a thank you for playing host.

"That donation really made me proud," Jones recalled. "It means a lot that Equifax recognized GM Financial's corporate mission to support the communities where our team members live and work."

There's no doubt that donations like the ones from Equifax and our generous team members make an impact.

"At the start of each year, United Way's bank account has a $0 balance," Murphy explained. "As we raise money throughout the year, we give every penny back to the community. That's why we need great partners like GM Financial."

The organization relies on its national network of community partners to achieve its goals. And, there are three ways you can help.

  • You can give through the GM Financial Signature Event campaign running now through Oct. 31;
  • You can advocate by promoting the organization among your personal network; or,
  • You can volunteer with United Way or a cooperating agency. The company makes it convenient for team members to volunteer, offering eight hours paid time off for full-time and four hours paid-time off for part-time team members to volunteer with a qualifying 501(c)(3) nonprofit each quarter.

"Employees can do their part by volunteering," Berce echoed. "It doesn't have to be for United Way or a United Way-funded agency, but employees should volunteer for their favorite charities or their favorite causes. And, while your time is important, your financial contributions are just as important so that we can give back to our communities. Your time and funds — they’re both critical."