Investing time, making a difference

Submitted by Muna Yussuf, Sherry Duncan and Lindsey Bradbury

It is likely that you have heard about the United Way Community Campaign which is well underway in the region. Perhaps your workplace is encouraging payroll deductions or holding a bake sale, taco in a bag lunch or any number of fund development activities. For 10 weeks many companies and organizations are involved.

As the United Way, we focus on being good stewards of donated dollars. We were the first to achieve accreditation through the Imagine Canada Standards Program in our community and one of only 132 charitable groups across Canada (as of 2014) to reach this level of excellence. As part of this process we reviewed and clarified the policies and procedures as they related to five key areas: board governance, financial accountability and transparency, ethical fundraising, staff management and volunteer involvement. We strive to be the best that we can be to ensure that monies raised do the most good in our community.

We keep administrative and fundraising costs as low as possible. In 2014, that was 10.6% of the total funds raised leaving 87% to go directly towards agency and program funding leaving about 4% to go toward other programing and partnerships (such as tools for school). (Please note *3% of funds raised is held as unrestricted dollars which assures our readiness to respond to unexpected needs.)

Donating funds is just the first step in the process. Next, the money is directed to the agencies and programs in need. That is where we come in. Muna, Lindsey and Sherry are the United Way piece of the Community Investment Committee. It is our volunteers on the Community Investment Committee who are the key to making the important decisions around investing money.

Each year the Community Investment Committee is tasked with efficiently and responsibly investing donor contributions where they will make the biggest community impact. Our passionate volunteers review the submissions, interview agencies and as a team decide on funding recommendations. Our volunteer Board of Directors conducts a final review and must approve all recommendations. This process is integral and that is where you might come in and invest your time.

We are looking for volunteers who would like to give of their time to the Community Investment Committee. We will be holding a two-hour introduction to the process on October 7th. If giving of your time to make decisions regarding the distribution of money and making a real difference in the lives of others in our community -to one of our 26 agencies who run 76 funded programs – then this committee might be right for you. We would love to have you join our team.

Please direct any inquiries to Muna at She may also be reached by calling 780-791-0077, ext. 3014.


Author: Sherry Duncan

Sherry proudly calls Fort McMurray home. Having lived in several mining communities with her family, it has been her experience that the heart of a community can be found at the volunteer pancake breakfasts, food bank drives, parent councils and similar community events no matter where your travels take you. From an early age Sherry volunteered in service to others under the watchful eye of her socially conscious father. As a parent to her own 3 (adult) children she has practiced and passed on those many life lessons. Over the years she has Chaired several volunteer events including (more recently) a Keyano United Way Campaign and served as board member for various organizations. Fort McMurray has no shortage of opportunities to be involved at many levels. Most recently Sherry's volunteered both front of house and on stage for Keyano theatre, Tedx Fort McMurray, Safe Communities Wood Buffalo PARTY Program, Social Prosperity Wood Buffalo and The Western Canada Summer Games. Sherry has completed the internationally recognized Chair Leadership Academy as part of her position as Chair and Instructor in Childhood Studies at Keyano College where she was also awarded the President's Instructional Leadership Award. She is a proud Leadership Wood Buffalo alumni, facilitator and keynote speaker. For 29 years, teaching children and adults has been her career allowing her many opportunities to travel, present, facilitate and engage in both educational and philanthropic activities. Joining the United Way will truly bring together her passions for teaching, learning and making a difference in the heart of her community and the Wood Buffalo Region.