Jan. 24, 2024

UCalgary comes together to help United Way raise more than $370,000 for communities in need

Celebrating the generosity of our campus community during the 2023 United Way Workplace Campaign
People face away from the camera looking at a large screen with a red background and the number '$372,431' on it
Guests at the United Way Wrap-Up event on Jan. 23 watch as the fundraising total for 2023 is unveiled. Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

The University of Calgary community came through once again for United Way in 2023, raising $372,431, exceeding the preceding year’s donations and the year’s goal.

The main objective for the campaign was to drive donations to United Way’s Community Impact Fund, which provides stable funding to more than 120 agencies, ensuring Calgarians can access services and support when and where they need them. 

The UCalgary community organized various events to promote participation and encourage people to donate. These included bake sales, raffles, silent auctions and the brand-new Sparks of Gratitude campaign. 

Community connection was vital to the campaign’s success, says Amanda Affonso, associate vice-president, alumni, community and partnerships. “It’s so wonderful to see UCalgary come together and support the Calgary community. So many people dedicated a great deal of time and effort to ensuring the campaign was a success,” says Affonso, BA’00. 

Community support

The success of the 2023 fundraising campaign would not have been possible without the dedicated members of UCalgary’s United Way Cabinet, led by John Alho and Dr. Ellen Perrault, BSW’93, MSW’95, PhD’09. The cabinet is a committee of UCalgary volunteers taking on the responsibility of leading fundraising efforts within each respective faculty or unit. It also includes Leadership Giving co-chairs Courtney McVie, BA’07, BComm’07, and Dr. Dianne Gereluk, MA’99, PhD. Through special events, cabinet members organized engaging activities that raised $35,178 for the campaign.

The Faculty of Science, for example, led collaborative fundraising efforts by bringing 16 faculties together to collect more than $4,000 in prizes.

Other special events included a campus-wide 50/50 raffle where the prize was more than $7,000. The generous contribution of creativity, passion and effort from cabinet members plays a significant role in bringing the campus community together each year.

Ed McCauley, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Calgary addresses the guests at the United Way Wrap-up event.

President Ed McCauley addresses the guests at the United Way Wrap-up event.

Riley Brandt

Sharing gratitude

UCalgary’s Sparks of Gratitude campaign, previously known as Give ‘n’ Thanks, was refreshed and launched in October. The campaign was a fun way to show appreciation for colleagues while supporting United Way at the same time. 

A total of 1,750 printed “Sparks” were sold on campus. Donors filled them in with messages of thanks and encouragement and delivered them to individuals of their choice. 

“The Sparks of Gratitude campaign was an exciting way to donate and share messages of appreciation with colleagues. I think people really enjoyed seeing the sparks showing up across campus,” says Affonso.


A wrap-up event in celebration of the campaign took place Jan. 23, where the total fundraising amount was announced and awards were presented to faculties and units that were successful in their campaigns:

  • Very Special Events award: This award is given to the faculty or unit raising the most money through special events.
    • 1st place: Cumming School of Medicine
    • 2nd place: Libraries and Cultural Resources
    • 3rd place: Haskayne School of Business
  • Leader in Leadership Donors award: This award is given to the faculty or unit with the largest number of Leadership Giving donations, which is any donations between $1,200 and $10,000.
    • 1st place: Cumming School of Medicine
    • 2nd place: Faculty of Arts
    • 3rd place: Haskayne School of Business
  • Hard Core award: This award is given to the faculty or unit with the largest number of core donors, which is any donations less than $1,200.
    • 1st place: Cumming School of Medicine
    • 2nd place: Office of Advancement
    • 3rd place: Faculty of Arts
  • Mover and Shaker award: This award is given to the faculty or unit who has seen the biggest growth in pledged donations and donors over the previous years.
    • 1st place: Faculty of Law
    • 2nd place: Faculty of Kinesiology
    • 3rd place: Faculty of Veterinary Medicine

Also announced at the event were the recipients of and finalists for the Cannon Challenge Cup. The challenge is named in honor of former UCalgary President Elizabeth Cannon for her devotion to the university’s community engagement efforts. The award is based on the amount of money raised in employee donations and special events, as well as participation level throughout the campaign. 

The honorees for the 2023 Cannon Challenge Cup are:

  • 1st place: UCalgary International
  • 2nd place: Office of Advancement
  • 3rd place: Libraries and Cultural Resources
James Allan, VP of Advancement, and Susan Brooke, VP of Community Impact & Partnerships, united Way of Calgary and Area, proudly award the 2023 Cannon Challenge Cup to this year's first-place honorees, Rebecca Trautwein

James Allan, VP Advancement, left, and Susan Brooke, VP Community Impact & Partnerships, United Way of Calgary and Area, right, award the 2023 Cannon Challenge Cup to 1st-place honorees, UCalgary International, represented by Rebecca Trautwein.

Riley Brandt

The university has supported the United Way of Calgary and Area since 1988, helping to raise more than $10 million through yearly campaigns. The partnership supports the United Way by investing in the community to create change at a local level, ensuring shelter, protection and opportunities for stability. United Way’s focus for its fall 2023 campaign centred around four key outcomes: socioeconomic well-beingmental healthsocial inclusion and healthy relationships.

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