President's Corner: Campaigns and Creative Fundraising

This is the time of year when United Way of Northeastern Minnesota (UWNEMN) staff are typically out conducting employee campaign fundraiser meetings at businesses across our service territory.  This year, however, things look different on UWNEMN’s calendar.  While some in-person campaign meetings have already taken place or have been scheduled, UWNEMN staff is also able to work with businesses to completely customize the campaign to fit different needs – providing personalized ways to offer employees the opportunity to give back locally.


If your business typically holds in-person campaign meetings, and you feel comfortable bringing in a UWNEMN staff member to conduct a presentation, UWNEMN is ready to make that happen!  If you’d prefer virtual campaign meetings via Zoom or Microsoft Teams, no problem!  If you prefer a hybrid of these methods, that works too!  UWNEMN has hard copy and electronic versions of brochures and pledge forms, a campaign video that shows the impact of local donations, and the capability to customize campaign websites just for your company. 


If you’ve had a campaign in the past at your company, UWNEMN staff will be reaching out to you.  If you haven’t, but you’d like to offer your employees an easy way to give back to their communities, give them a shout at 218-215-2421 or shoot Erin an email at


We know UWNEMN will lose pledged contributions this year due to the pandemic because many local workplace donors have lost their jobs. Unfortunately, this comes at a time when the needs and costs for UWNEMN programs are increasing. UWNEMN’s Buddy Backpacks program is seeing a need to increase student enrollment. In addition, food costs have gone up, and some of the items traditionally ordered have become scarce.  UWNEMN will need to increase the cost of each meal kit from $5 to $6.  Funding support is desperately needed to ensure that children in critical need receive the food they rely on through Buddy Backpacks.


Because of emerging needs and added expenses, UWNEMN is getting creative with fundraising.  Five successful online auctions were held over the summer to raise funds for Buddy Backpacks. Currently, Bucks for Backpacks raffle tickets are on sale for $100. We are selling 400 this year, but one in every 10 is still a winner – the top prize is $8,000!  To get yours, email Elizabeth at  Tickets are selling quickly! The drawing will be broadcast on UWNEMN’s Facebook Live from The Sawmill Saloon & Restaurant on October 8th.  


We’re also close to releasing the details on another new virtual event – a “Big Buck Contest” that will take place during this year’s deer rifle season.  All proceeds will benefit UWNEMN’s Imagination Library program, providing free books to local children from birth to age five.


Lastly, I’d like to remind everyone that UWNEMN has established a COVID-19 relief fund for those in our service territory facing job loss or reduced hours/wages due to the pandemic.  Many donors contributed to initiate this fund, and a recent contribution from the St. Louis County Community Development Block Grant has expanded the funding available. UWNEMN is urging all those who have been impacted by the pandemic in this way to click here to apply for assistance toward mortgage, rent, utility, or other basic need payment.


In a state, country, and world divided and suffering, the one thing we can do to better our lives and those of others is to unite and Give Where We Live.  UWNEMN needs your support to carry out its Game Changing work more than ever this year.