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Copy of ‘Normal’ is out, creativity is in: Workplaces show their local love


At United Way East Ontario, we’ve long known the power of workplace teams when they rally together behind a cause they care about, to make a difference for those in need. 

In fact, each year, hundreds of local workplaces across Prescott-Russell, Ottawa, Lanark County, and Renfrew County gather to learn about local issues, hear from experts, and engage in fundraising efforts—all with the goal of making our communities stronger. 

Normally, our supporters in workplaces across our region are used to running their campaigns with fun, in-person events, celebrating their impact with guest speakers, and inspiring donations through bake sales, auctions, talent shows, truck pulls, breakfasts, and so much more.  

We can’t be sure when ‘normal’ will make a comeback, but the creativity is here to stay.  

Our workplace partners embrace wholeheartedly the virtual nature of their campaigns, and their innovation and overwhelming support has been inspiring to witness. We’re still tackling the issues we faced at the beginning of the pandemic—remaining nimble as needs evolve. And thanks to our supporters, we’re equipped to help our communities’ most vulnerable people over the long term. 

Here are just a few examples of how workplaces have shown their #LocalLove this year:  

Hydro Ottawa

Hydro Ottawa holds an annual employee auction in late November/early December, where it asks its employees, community organizations, and businesses to donate products or services for the purpose of auctioning them off to employees and retirees. This virtual-friendly event uses third-party auction software to register items and bidders. 

The event runs in the lead up to the holiday season as employees and retirees look for gifts for friends and family.  

“This past year, after the challenging year of upheaval, there was a dedicated focus to really drive the event, especially given that some of our other community events were forced to be postponed.”

They switched auction platforms to find a more user and mobile friendly option and put a lot of effort into raising event awareness. These efforts led to a 215 per cent increase in funds raised compared to the same event last year! 

“As a community company that delivers essential services to Ottawa residents, contributing to the well-being of our community through engagement as a responsible corporate citizen has always been a part of Hydro Ottawa’s core mandate. The benefits in terms of employee morale and engagement from coming together for important community causes and organizations like United Way are also significant.”

Hydro Ottawa’s 2021 United Way workplace campaign raised more than $67,500, thanks to the generosity of employees. To show its support, Hydro Ottawa matches all funds raised, dollar for dollar, as a way of recognizing and supporting these efforts and increasing employee engagement in the campaign. 

Turnbull School

Turnbull’s got talent! This year, the staff and students at Turnbull School participated in a fundraising event in support of United Way East Ontario. During the three weeks of their campaign, students and staff submitted videos of their hidden talents, while disguising their identities (in the spirit of both America’s Got Talent and The Masked Singer). Talents included trampoline acrobatics, singing, playing musical instruments, dance skills, magic tricks, and even a teacher with talents in stand-up comedy!  

“With 51 entries, it’s clear that students and staff not only have talent, but an amazing commitment to working with United Way to help those who need it most!”

PCL Construction

The Ping Pong Ball Drop activity has been a staple event in the PCL campaign for many years. It’s one of the company’s most inclusive events. It allows all donors to participate and have their name assigned to a numbered ping pong ball. Here’s how it works: 

Upon making a donation, your name gets randomly assigned a number. These numbers are then written onto ping pong balls so that each ball has a unique number and represents a donor. All balls get put into a large bin and dropped from a high location on top of a target. Once all the balls stop moving, whichever ball is closest to the middle of the target is the winner. The number on the ball is matched to the donor from the randomly assigned list and they take home the prize. 

Due to COVID-19, PCL began recording the drop instead of having a live audience. 

“It’s very impactful when you see and hear all the ping pong balls pour out of the bin. It’s a great representation of how many donors took part in our campaign.”

Donors get to select where their donations are targeted. PCL’s top three selected funds this past year included Hard Hat Heroes, All That Kids Can Be, and United Way’s community fund.  

“Supporting and partnering with United Way East Ontario through campaign donations provides our employees the ability to make a positive impact in someone’s day and a lasting difference in their communities.”

Mercer Canada

In the fall of 2021, Mercer combined its annual United Way office campaign with the annual Beau’s Virtual Ride and the “It’s Time to Move More @ Mercer” campaign. At the end of the two-week campaign, Mercer welcomed the United Way team and a spokesperson to virtually speak to staff and give heartfelt testimonies on the direct impact that donations make across the region. 

Mercer also generously offered a corporate match for all donations, which helped every employee dollar make a greater impact for people in need. 

Mercer’s Ottawa location was one of the top five offices in the company’s “It’s Time to Move More @ Mercer” campaign, which allowed the team to donate an extra $4,000 CAD to United Way, on top of $14,860 USD in one-time donations fundraised by employees during the campaign. 

“The office bike ride that we organized for the Beau’s Virtual Ride was also a great cause for office colleagues to meet and catch up in person while enjoying a nice workout.”

Mercer’s campaign was geared toward all of United Way’s focus areas. Donors had the opportunity to focus their donations on specific causes if ever they had a personal preference. 

Getting social

A special mention to the workplaces who shared their special campaign activities online and tagged United Way, so we could follow along. We see you, Algonquin College Pembroke Campus and Ingenium! 

Learn more about how your workplace can make a local difference with United Way. 



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