A couple of months ago, Al Miller, a member of the board of the United Way of Washington County offered a suggestion for a fundraising event. The idea was for the first annual United Way Bowl involving the Warren and Marietta High Schools' football game on Aug. 31. Gary Williams, vice president, along with our president, Deb Roberts, convened a committee of a half dozen board members to design the logistics for the game.
Miller offered a list of fundraising activities and tasks for board members that was modified and approved by the board. The activities included a parade before the game of the 18 agencies the United Way funds in Washington County, a drawing for a game ball for both Marietta and Warren, sale of T-shirts donated by BSN Sports and trophies donated by Amrine Awards and Apparel for the winner of the game and for the team whose fans gave the most money.
The evening of the game 10 of our 14 board members attended along with agency representatives accompanied by those they serve totaling over 100 people. When we arrived, my wife, Carol, and I began hawking chances for the two game balls while other board members organized the agency parade and sold T-shirts. Student council members for both the schools worked hard soliciting donations and selling more football chances. At the end of each quarter, the totals were announced by loudspeaker. The cheerleaders for both sides threw out footballs with United Way printed on them at the end of the first quarter.
You may already know that Warren won a hard fought, exciting game. They also barely won the contest of funds solicited by only a couple of dollars. The two trophies for the game winner and fan donations were presented to the Warren team after the game.
There was obvious excitement on the part of the two school student council teams. They never gave up. With $200 from Christy and Associates and $220 from the Warren Athletic Boosters, over $1,700 was raised, which will help the United Way of Washington County meet its goal of $266,000. This success puts us closer to being able to fund our 18 agencies at 100 percent for the first time in several years.
However, what impressed me most about this whole event was the camaraderie and fun the board members experienced during this evening. The First Annual United Way Bowl and the planning that preceded it was a teambuilding session for our board members.
When I facilitate teambuilding sessions, I always try to identify a task of value to all team members and the organization. If a team can communicate respectfully, deal with conflict successfully and experience a positive outcome, they will be able to create future successes. Success begats success. Sometimes effective teams coalesce naturally. More often, a structured event where team members talk about how they will talk and learn conflict management techniques is required to gel the team. The United Way's accomplishments for their very worthy agencies this year may be due to the board's teambuilding during the United Way Bowl.
R. Glenn Ray, Ph.D., is the president of RayCom Learning. To learn more about Ray's new book, "Tons of Stone above my head: Coal Mining Stories with Leadership Lessons," visit his Web site, www.raycomlearning.com. Everyday Leadership appears each Wednesday on the Business page.