The 2018 United Way Campaign kickoff is just a few days away. Volunteers are gearing up to pull the community together for another year of fun activities and fundraising to benefit individuals from all walks of life in Greater Lafayette. Leading that effort this year is County Commissioner, Tom Murtaugh. Although his calendar has been completely packed, we caught up with the 2018 United Way Campaign Chair and talked about his local life, his background with United Way, his wishes for a spectacular 2018 campaign and his "bucket list" desire to be a mascot.
Are you a Lafayette native?
I was raised right here on a family farm where Caterpillar is today. Creasy was a gravel road, and 26 was a 2-lane small country road. I have lived in Lafayette my entire life except for college. I went to Wabash College so even then I didn’t go very far.
Name a few things you really like about our community.
I really like this spirit of cooperation and that being both politically and in other areas of the community as well. Everybody wants to work together. This is a community that has a lot of folks like myself that have been here for a long time, but there's also a lot of new people bringing diversity and really cool elements to our culture. I love the fact that we are embracing our downtown area. You can see that when you're downtown in the evening and it’s just as hard to find a place to park as it is during the day.
What drew you to United Way and what roles have you had?
My parents always preached to us about the importance of volunteering and giving back. So after I went through Leadership Lafayette I decided it was time to get engaged with the community, so I joined the Volunteer Bureau of Lafayette board of directors. In that same time period, the board decided it made perfect sense for the Volunteer Bureau to be a part of United Way. So shortly after that, the Volunteer Bureau became part of United Way.
I really was not very familiar with United Way. I knew they raised money for partner agencies, but I didn't know much about the work that they were doing outside of that. This was 2004, and I've been involved with United Way ever since. I’ve held various different capacities both on the board, as Board President, a member of the Community Investment Committee, as chair of the Community Investment Committee and now Campaign Chair.
What is the accomplishment you are most proud of in your time with United Way? (or is it coming?)
I am hoping that we have a very, very successful campaign, so I guess that would be my future goal.
In your experience, name the best things about our United Way.
We have a truly amazing, dedicated staff. Concerning the work, you know I think that United Way is a group of folks that indeed are very respected in the community. United Way is held in high regard among providers, as well as community leaders and the public in general.
I'm very proud of the fact that we do so much more than just being the fundraiser for our 21 partner agencies. United Way is the go-to group to identify community problems and issues and then also they are the folks to bring those people to the table to help solve those community issues. It’s what we are working on now around substance abuse and mental health
What are the challenges you see facing United Way?
The most significant challenge is how we are going to relate to the next generations, especially the millennials. We hear a lot of younger folks want to donate and volunteer – but they are looking to do that through technology. United Way has some work to do to in that area. We are still kind of old school handing out forms, etc. We need to get savvy in that arena for the campaign.
Another challenge: How do you communicate the work we're doing? We used to always count on doing that in front of a workforce, telling them what we do, but you know that's not the best way. We need to be more adept at social media and be able to tell a more cohesive the story across all platforms.
Describe your 2018 Campaign Cabinet in three words.
Ha! Let's see....crazy, but passionate. Also, loud and energetic. I know that's more than 3, but they are a formidable team!
What is the best part about being the 2018 Campaign Chair?
By far the best part is I get invited to see behind the curtain with all the CEO visits. This is a tremendous opportunity to sit down one-on-one with up to 150 CEOs at their companies, talk to their leadership and really delve into what they're doing and what their challenges are. We often get tours, so it’s indeed been gratifying.
What is one thing you’d like to say to the Greater Lafayette Community about United Way?
It is best to donate to United Way because every dollar stays right here in this community. The decisions that are made about how that money is spent are made by your peers. These are committed volunteers who also care about this community just like the donors do.
What superpower would you like to have?
That's interesting. Besides magically hitting $6 million for this campaign, I think I'd like the ability to allow everybody to see what cool things are being done. You know, what great work is being done with our United Way.
I'd also love to wear a mascot outfit one day. I think it'd be great to wear the costume and have fun with folks without them all knowing it was me!
You can learn more about Tom Murtaugh and his vision for the 2018 United Way Campaign at the Campaign Kickoff Luncheon. Be sure to reserve your seat today!