Putting the Fun in Fundraising

Cindy Wertz, chief of staff for Pitt Information Technology, co-chairs the department’s United Way campaign, which goes back more than 10 years. “We call it ‘FUNdraising’ and try to be creative with healthy competitions between teams within the department.”

The department is changing and growing, with Pitt IT’s strategic planning and the addition of the Financial Information Systems team. And their United Way campaign has also grown.

Wertz estimates the department now has more than 300 employees who are encouraged to participate in pancake breakfasts, thrift sales and other activities that raise money for the University’s campaign.

Activities that bring in the bacon

Since 2012, the department’s senior leaders have hosted a pancake breakfast for staff. The $5 event spreads the fragrance of bacon throughout the Cathedral of Learning, which Wertz said attracts passersby.

“We invited people from other floors to join and it’s a great way to network with our neighbors from other departments. We have a lot of fun,” Wertz said. The event raised about $150 its first year, but has become an annual tradition and consistently brings in more than $600 for the campaign.

Not all Pitt IT staff are based in the Cathedral, so there are team lunches scattered throughout buildings, from Bellefield Hall to the University’s network operations center at RIDC Park in O’Hara Township. “Different people bring different foods, like tacos or ribs. One group offers five lunches for $20,” Wertz said.

Other activities have included lottery trees and thrift sales. Additionally, the department has raffled team baskets during their annual staff awards around the holidays; those raffles have raised $800 to $1,000 each time.

Keeping informed

With so many employees across different locations, the teams use multiple channels to spread the word about events and campaign opportunities. “The different team directors and managers and building admins serve as point people if we need to sell lunch tickets or coordinate logistics,” said campaign co-chair Mike Casella, IT service owner.

With more employees taking advantage of technology to telecommute, the team has also implemented digital resources. “We have a United Way SharePoint website and newsletters. Those seem to really help to get information to people about important dates or winners of different events,” Casella said.

Wertz attributed Pitt IT’s campaign success to several factors, including support from departmental leadership and employees’ sense of team-building and competition. “There are also some people who are just really passionate about giving and helping, especially knowing that it goes back to the local community,” Casella added.

How to donate

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

Options to give include online through a recurring payroll deduction or a one-time gift; or by credit card, check or pledge form.

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.