Human Connection Key to Inspiring Participation in United Way Campaign

Kristy BronderKristy Bronder joined the University as a temp in Pitt Business’ Office of the Dean in January 2006 and was hired full time in the spring. That summer, when asked if she’d like to be part of Pitt’s United Way campaign, she saw it as a way to get to know people in other schools at the University and also become involved in helping the community.

What started as an opportunity to meet new people and get involved as a new staff member evolved into a more significant opportunity with the annual University campaign. Bronder, who's now director of the Business of Humanity project, has for the past six years managed Pitt Business’ United Way initiatives, which begin mid-October and conclude the week before Thanksgiving.

“I’ve really enjoyed finding ways to get people more involved with the campaign over the years,” Bronder said.

Her role as a campaign manager includes overseeing all efforts from different schools and offices at Pitt Business, including various centers and initiatives, the College of Business Administration and the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business.

Bronder said that this year’s campaign kicked off with a Pitt Business event, where Dean Arjang Assad spoke and desserts were served. As the campaign progressed through the fall, weekly giveaways encouraging participation included restaurant gift cards and raffle entries for prize baskets featuring lottery tickets and photographs donated by  Dennis Galletta, Ben L. Fryrear Faculty Fellow, professor of business administration, director of the doctoral program and an avid photographer.

Each year, Pitt Business raises about $1,000 in special events donations through the raffles and other events like bake sales. Overall this year, participation surpassed 50 percent, an increase of 5 percent over 2017.

There's still time to donate

The United Way Campaign website has information about how you can donate to support the Pitt campaign.

While payroll deduction is no longer available, other options include credit card, check or even by mail.

Donors can contribute to the United Way Impact Fund, through which the United Way targets funds to support the local agencies that serve populations facing the most critical current needs, or donors can instead choose from hundreds of local and regional organizations to direct their contributions toward.

Bronder imagines what an impact it could make if participation from every school at Pitt rose even just 1 or 2 percent. “Sometimes it’s not so much about the same people giving more as inspiring more people to participate and get involved,” she said.

Additionally, Bronder boosted support of the United Way’s 100,000 Books campaign this fall by incorporating it into their Oct. 11 kick-off event with the help of Adam Baron, senior corporate engagement lead for the United Way, who spoke at the event. Children’s literacy has been a passion for Bronder, whose background includes a double major in elementary education and theater arts. “I truly believe that children having access to books from a young age makes a significant difference in their future academic success,” she said.

Bronder thinks helping the community and looking for volunteer opportunities can be critical to increasing participation by highlighting human connection. She recalled a campaign kick-off event that occurred during her first or second year at Pitt, which featured a keynote speaker who was a lawyer working with Kid’s Voice, an organization that connects children in need to legal representatives who can help. Bronder said that she was particularly inspired by the powerful stories of personal interactions that keynote speaker shared.

“I think when people hear personal stories about how the United Way helped people, it makes a big difference,” Bronder said. “It puts a face on it. I think a lot of times when people are looking at someone face-to-face and engaging with them, so much breaks down and you find that human connection with somebody and you realize you empathize with them. I think that’s so key.”