Baylor’s partnership with United Way Workplace campaign expected to fall short of funding goal

As a long-running pairing between United Way Waco and Baylor flourishes, the university invites the charity to be featured at a home game each football season. Photo courtesy of United Way Waco

By Sarah Pinkerton | Staff Writer

Baylor has maintained its partnership with the the Waco-McLennan County United Way organization for another year. Alongside 100 other local businesses for the United Way Workplace Campaign, the organization commits 100% of donated funds to local Waco non-profits.

The United Way Workplace Campaign is the top effort to bring in money to the organization. It partners with large employers over a period of a few months to a year as each company or institution takes on different fundraising efforts in their respective business.

Stephanie Mabry, senior director of Resource Development and Communications at United Way, said the funds raised last year were able to fund 37 programs within 25 different non-profit agencies in Waco.

“We fund very specific areas of need,” she said. “Those specific areas are health, education and financial stability.”

United Way then asks local non-profits that fall under the three categories to apply for specific grants. These grants are given with the funds raised.

“We ask that they share information with us so that we can better understand how they’re operating,” she said. “Are they operating under best practices? Are these programs effective, and are they moving the needle in areas that need to be moved?”

Some of the currently funded nonprofits include the Family Abuse Center, Talitha Koum Institute, Caritas of Waco, Family Health Center, Care Net Pregnancy Center of Central Texas and Compassion Ministries of Waco among 27 others.

Jeremy Vickers, associate vice president of External Affairs, said that as a part of the grant review committee for financial security, he is responsible for reviewing around 20 organizations to grant a portion of the money.

“Those nonprofits are the ones that carry out the work,” he said. “So when Baylor partners with United Way, as an employee-campaign partner, what we’re asking faculty and staff at Baylor to do is to consider giving to an organization who’s going to do the hard work of assessing the big needs in our community, partnering with non-profits and then putting the money where the needs are.”

Mabry said that Baylor has a long history with their organization.

“We are a staff of seven at United Way in Waco, and six of the staff members are Baylor graduates,” she said. “So there are a number of ways in which we have ties and connections and deep roots to Baylor University.”

Vickers said that they have invited the employees of Baylor to give a small donation to United Way from their salary.

“They take that money from each of the organizations and put it together,” he said. “In the Waco area, I think it’s typically about a million dollars a year they raise from all of their partners.”

He said United Way is the only external campaign that Baylor asks its faculty and staff to contribute donations towards.

Running since October 1, faculty and staff are able to contribute a monthly donation, which can be equal to one hour of pay, another monthly amount or a one-time gift.

The donations for this year end Friday.

The website states that their end goal is for 200 employees to give $42 a month or at least $500 to the General Impact Fund.

While Baylor typically raises around $70,000 to $90,000, Vickers doesn’t think they will reach that goal this year due to challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“United Way has communicated that that’s what they’re seeing across all of their Workplace Campaigns,” he said. “And they’re expecting an overall smaller pool of funds for the local nonprofit community next year.”

Vickers said that because Baylor is one of the largest employers in the Greater Waco region, they have a responsibility to be engaged.

“The community appreciates that as an employer, and as a Christian university, that we have a culture of compassion and giving back,” he said. “They see it in things like these campaigns and other activities that we do.”