Burlington United Way campaign wraps it up for 2013 – target met with a great organization in place for 2014.

By Pepper Parr


January 27 , 2014

It was one of those 8 in the morning meetings – and all hands were expected to be on deck – and except for one who was out of town – the full team was in the room.

Burlington’s United Way team was getting an update on the 2013 campaign, tying up the loose ends and planning for 2014.

Brian Ferguson, 2013 Burlington Chair of the United Way campaign smiles as he looks back on a very successful campaign. Heads into 2014 with bigger plans.

Brian Ferguson, chair of the Burlington campaign and charged with raising $2.1 million as his city’s part of the objective, runs a brisk operation.  Burlington works with Hamilton n sharing the administration and overhead of running the United Way campaign in the two cities.

Burlington more than achieved its $2.1 million target – which Ferguson saw as “lower than it needs to be”.

Burlington missed its 2012 target by a disappointing $90,000 – Ferguson, a recruiter for VMWare in Burlington, who is out of the country frequently, runs a tight, focused, fun group that relies heavily on electronic communications.  They tried to work with Google DOCs, software that allows for collaboration of a document but, as Ferguson put it “we need some training on that”.

The United Way team he has put together is more techie in terms of its content.  It has an energy, a buzz, a “we are working at something that is important and we are going to get it done”, attitude that pervades everything.

The donours are the focus and are broken out by sector with Divisional managers in place and sector specialists working their client lists.

The team this year has many of the same people – but the drive is much different.  With the target for 2013 basically met the focus now is on next year during which Ferguson will lead the charge again – not something that is done all that often.  Rarely do chairs get asked to put in a second term.  Ferguson felt his job wasn’t done yet and wants to double the size of his campaign cabinet and he is reaching out in some very interesting and significant way.  There is a small team of MBA students from the DeGroote McMaster campus in the Cabinet.

Laura Evans and Mark Evans representing the DeGroote campus of McMaster University where the graduate students have become active participants of the United Way drive.

Ferguson is pleased with what the Cabinet has been able to achieve in 2013 but knows that if the targets he has in mind are to be reached in 2014 he will need a bigger team.  He says he would like to double what he had in 2013 – which would be awesome – but he will need a bigger meeting room.  The Cabinet meeting that I observed was spread over two large meeting rooms at the VMware offices. 

The Cabinet that made the 2013 target happen consisted of:

2013 Co Vice Chairs: Jamie Edwards and Sheila Jaggard

2013 MBA Program Lead – Joe Burnham – Mark Evans will take this over in 2014; students do graduate and move on.

Business Division Chair – Jason Lemaich

Business Sector Chair – Bryan Chew

Education Division Chair – Lorrie Naar

Finance Division Chair– Samantha Shetty

Government Division Chair – Kim Phillips

Healthcare Division Chair – Sheila Jaggard

Manufacturing Division Chair – Greg Jones

Manufacturing Sector Chairs – Sam Ro & Tara Brewer

Legal / Professionals Division Chair – Chantel Goldsmith

Legal / Professionals Sector Chair – Carolyn McCarney

Sports & Recreation Division Chair – Kaylan Danton

Real Estate Division Chair – Mike Hyatt

Events Division Chair – Ryan Harrison

New Business Division Chair – Scott Robinson

Cabinet Marketing Chair – Laura Evans

This is the million dollar team – make that the $2.1 million dollar team. The Burlingtom arm of the Burlington Hamilton United Way drive for 2013

Does doubling an organization this size make sense?  The full organization doesn’t meet all that often; only to brief each other on what has been achieved and then to plan for the next level – and this group thinks in terms of new levels.

Jamie Edwards, a well-known realtor in town who has been around as long as the clock has been outside city hall will tell you – “ this is a young people’s game” and adds that they are doing it differently than we did years ago and they are making a difference.

For this crew it is all business.  They have fun, the work hard at what they do because they are hard workers.  Everything for them is about communicating and they all hover over their Smart phones; well perhaps not Jim Frizzle, who brings wisdom, as lower approach and a “ let’s think this through thoroughly” style to his contribution.

The Cabinet Brian Ferguson has developed, and remember he is one of the senior recruiters for a very successful high-tech organization, is there to get the job done.  This isn’t a social club – they are in the room to deliver and for 2013 they did deliver.

They tend to keep their numbers close to their chests but they will have surpassed the $2.1 million they were expected to raise for 2013 by a substantial margin.

Len Lifchus, the man who oversees both the Burlington and the Hamilton campaigns and then ensures that the funds raised go to where they are needed and can do the most for the community.

The final tally for the 2013 campaign will get read out loud at the Evening of Celebration and Spirit of Community Awards that takes place late in February in Hamilton.  That’s when this team will let their hair down and celebrate a magnificent achievement.  It will be interesting to see if these people party as hard as they work.

The Evening of Celebration and Spirit of Community Awards will be both a celebration and an adieu – United Way CEO Len Lifchus announced his retirement a number of months ago.  The evening will be a thank you for all you’ve done and all the best as you move on to your next challenge – which we are told is a step into retirement – hard to even imagine Len Lifchus retiring.  Managing a little theatre group perhaps – but retirement – unlikely.



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