World Wide Web, Please Don’t Fail Us Now!

For the past few days (no, make that weeks) our team at United Way has been caught up in a flurry of activity.  From the launch of our new website to planning our Annual Kick-off event, this hard-working group of people has not slowed down. As of 4:00 p.m. yesterday afternoon, I heard the list of ‘things to do’ being checked and double checked.  Shouts could be heard across the communication team members’ desks, “Are the batteries in the camera charged?” “Did you get those extra t-shirts I left for you?”  “What is this?  Am I supposed to bring this with me?”  And then, the inevitable packing of the event roller bag, ready to roll into Edmonton EXPO Centre.  And finally, the words, “Okay, we’re good to go – quarter after four and we’re ready!”  Gulp.  We’re ready.

This is always an exciting time of year, but this year is different – it’s even more exciting.   Today, September 15, 2010, we made history - today, for the first time our United Way live-streamed our Kick-off luncheon event to the whole world via our website.  And today, Hall H at Edmonton EXPO Centre was buzzing with people posting real-time Twitter updates – from and into our event. 

Our 2010 Campaign Chair, The Honourable A. Anne McLellan, addressed the crowd eloquently and authentically and then went on to announce the forecasted financial target for the 2010 campaign.  She revealed the dollar amount of $21.5 million – and, that she believed our community would go beyond that target – because the Alberta Capital Region is known for its generosity. 

Kuen Tang was the keynote speaker for the event, sharing her story of success after being seriously injured in an automobile accident a number of years ago and overcoming the challenges of living her life in a wheelchair.  She thanked the crowd of nearly 800 people for their support to community, crediting them for being the real reason for her success. 

The only word that comes to mind for me is, quite simply - wow.   This is the sixth campaign I have had the privilege of being part of and I don’t think I have ever witnessed so much change for our United Way.  The kind of change I saw today scares me a little and excites me a lot. 

We committed to going live with our web cast so we could share, with the whole world,  the inspiring stories from our United Way in the Alberta Capital Region.  Of course, when you invite the whole world to watch something that involves electronics and the internet, you’re just asking for trouble.  Here’s the good news, we only had a little bit of technical challenge to contend with, certainly nothing that couldn’t be handled with the expertise we had on hand.  We are communicating with our community in a whole new way and with that, we will learn to adapt to change and any little bump in the road we may encounter. 

With the 2010 Kick-off event over and successfully tucked away for another year, United Way of the Alberta Capital Region is excited to reach out to and include our tens of thousands of supporters in a completely new way.  As one of my colleagues, Carol, in Halifax said, “Not bad for a 70 year old.”

Want to be inspired by people you have helped? See how they offer their thanks in the 2010 United Way video.