In the News
August 5, 2014
Source Michael Lea, Kingston Whig-Standard
For much of her career, Carrie Batt has been loaning out money to businesses and corporations.
Now she is hoping to get some of it back.
Batt, the vice-president of commercial financial services for RBC Royal Bank, is the new campaign chair for the United Way of Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington and will be spending the next year convincing area businesses big and small, along with their workers, to either start or continue their support for the charity.
“It’s a worthwhile cause and I’m happy to put the time in,” said Batt.
This will be the 72nd annual campaign for the United Way. The 2013 effort took in $3,625,000, 6% above the stated goal.
The United Way provides funding to 89 programs in the area, benefitting 85,000 people. More than 80% of the funding comes from more than 400 individual workplace campaigns in Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington.
For Batt, the transition to the top spot in the campaign was a natural one. Last year, she was vice-chair under Lori MacDonald.
“I knew what that meant, me being chair this year if the board approved my selection,” Batt said.
“It is a little daunting because you are very much in the public and you know how important it is to raise the money. There are a lot of people relying on you. It’s a big job but there are a lot of people helping you.”
Originally from northwestern Ontario, Batt’s family moved to Winnipeg when she was 12.
After graduating from the University of Manitoba she started her career with RBC as a trainee account manager in business banking.
“I have always been in business banking,” she explained. “Dealing with business clients has always been my love. It’s been fantastic. There are so many great things happening all across the country. I have dealt with customers in every sector you can imagine.”
Her clients have ranged from Hutterite communities to high-tech firms.
A move to Moosejaw was followed by her arrival in Kingston in 2002.
“I think Bhavana (Varma, the United Way CEO) gave me about a month after I arrived in Kingston before knocking on my door,” she laughed.
Batt had been involved in charities out west, with the YMCA in Moosejaw and with UNICEF in Manitoba. She had also been a United Way employee representative with her bank.
She started small in Kingston, working in the cabinet for a few years before moving to the board of directors and eventually ending up as chair.
“While I have been with the United Way I have also sat on some of the committees that do the granting,” she said. “And I can see the due diligence that goes behind every donation that is made from the United Way.”
She also sat on the finance committee and learned how they worked to ensure the administrative expenditures were as low as possible.
“It makes me that much more committed,” she said.
She has been pleasantly surprised by the number of people who have offered their support to her, many of whom she didn’t know or only knew slightly.
“It has been really heartwarming. This community really cares and they know they have an excellent United Way.”
She said the cabinet works to analyze previous campaigns and identify national trends to develop each year’s plan.
This year they hope to continue the growth in “leadership giving,” people who donate $100 per month or more.
They are also hoping to focus more on younger workers.
“We do have a lot of young people who support the United Way so we know for the future we have to build on that.”
She knows workplaces are often shrinking and hopes the people who still have jobs will realize the need is still there, if not greater.
She is also counting on continued support from the area’s unions, one area where management and employees work together for the common good.
Batt has already been out to a number of workplaces and plans to hit even more prior to the 2014 campaign kickoff on Sept. 12.
She is happy to talk to campaign volunteers and workplaces but feels a more important message can come from those whose lives have been changed for the better by the United Way’s funding through the member agencies.
“Those kind of stories really motivate people. When you hear from someone whose life has been changed, it makes a big difference.”
She will be making her debut address to the hundreds of workplace volunteers during the kickoff breakfast at the Ambassador.
“It’s a little unnerving but I will be okay with that,” she said.