UMACC kicks off fundraising year with charity fair

By Devinne Zadravec

(Amanda Creegan/Daily Collegian)
(Amanda Creegan/Daily Collegian)

The University of Massachusetts Amherst Community Campaign, a longstanding workplace program that allows faculty and staff to donate to any charitable organization of their choice, celebrated the start of another fundraising year with a kickoff charity fair Tuesday.

Held in the Student Union ballroom, attendees of the kickoff event enjoyed free food, live music and spoke personally with representatives from more than 30 of the non-profit organizations who benefit directly from UMACC donations.

“This year is a building year for us, so we’re really trying to raise awareness of what the campaign is,” said Jennifer Page, manager of UMACC.

Under new leadership as of this year, UMACC is once again preparing for an ambitious fundraising campaign, with a goal of $350,000 to be raised by the end of January 2016.

Since the campaign’s kickoff Oct. 20, UMACC has raised $102,522 to date. Members of the UMass community can view the campaign’s progress on the UMACC webpage, or by visiting one of the three progress-tracking signs located across campus.

UMACC’s aim is to make giving charitable donations easy. The campaign attempts to streamline the donation process so faculty and staff can ideally donate to any charity of their choosing efficiently and with confidence, knowing that their donation will be directly impacting their chosen charitable organizations.

This year’s campaign chair is Dr. Willie Hill, Jr., director of the Fine Arts Center. While new to UMACC, Hill is no stranger to philanthropic endeavors, and heavily attributes his passion for giving to his own life experiences.

Hill became involved with UMACC after a stint as co-chair of the Faculty and Staff Campaign, and is looking forward to revitalizing and challenging the campaign to match and potentially surpass its former successes.

“We’re positioning ourselves at this point to move that bar up, and to make it a very, very successful campaign,” Hill said.

Past campaigns have set a high bar; at its peak success in 2010, UMACC raised an impressive $466,000 in one year.

“I think the support now is in place from the University administration,” Hill added.  “There are a lot of individuals that are really engaged in this whole process of what we’re trying to accomplish, and I think we’re well positioned to move forward.”

The campaign this year intends to set a new standard for fundraising, with events like the kickoff charity fair planned to not only spread the word and involve the community, but to generate excitement about the work that UMACC supports.

“We’re really trying to rev-up the campaign,” Hill said. “I think with new leadership, with Jennifer Page and with all the support mechanisms that are in place now, these are very realistic goals. Because people do give, they like to give, and it makes them feel really good to be involved.”

The campaign has existed since the early 1990s, and has raised a grand total nearing $8 million dollars since its start.

Devinne Zadravec can be reached at [email protected]