Even with the unusual year, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska (BCBSNE) exceeded its United Way of the Midlands (UWM) fundraising campaign goal by raising $390,834 to support the nonprofit.

UWM helps those in need work toward independence through programs fostering basic needs, education and financial stability. BCBSNE’s annual fundraising campaign engages employees in a variety of activities to raise funds for the nonprofit.

With most employees working remotely, BCBSNE had to adjust its approach to this year’s campaign.

“Working from home clearly challenged the campaign leadership because it essentially shut down all of our historically successful campaign events, including the celebration aspects ,” said Steve Konnath, vice president of actuarial, underwriting and data analytics at BCBSNE and 2020 campaign co-chair. “The biggest changes were the incredibly creative virtual campaign events.”

“We rose to the occasion despite the circumstances,” said Rama Kolli, chief information officer at BCBSNE and 2020 campaign co-chair. “We knew that a lot of people were suffering in the community, and we showed up to be there for Nebraskans.”

A major way BCBSNE passed its $350,000 goal was selling about 400 masks and 600 t-shirts.

Some virtual events besides the t-shirt and mask shop included a pumpkin carving contest, a Young Professionals Connect trivia challenge and more.

“One of the events was instructional videos by some of our leadership team sharing their hobbies and skills,” Rebekka Erks Byrne, organizational development specialist at BCBSNE and campaign event lead, said. “The topics included motorcycles, cooking Indian food, dog training, throwing a football and fishing. We had never done this event before, so we weren’t sure what to expect; however, we had quite a few people sign up to watch the leadership videos.”

Another new virtual event was pet and family portraits for employees.

“Employees were able to submit a photo of a pet or their family for an artist to sketch,” said Karah Thompson, agile project manager at BCBSNE and campaign event lead. “We had over 73 people submit photos.”

The lack of in-person events didn’t stop BCBSNE employees from giving.

“BCBSNE and our employees are very generous and engaged in giving back to the community,” said Kolli. “Our dedication to our tradition of giving did not change, even through COVID-19. I think that sets a great example for others on being there for the community.”

Corporate Partner of the Year

BCBSNE recently received the Corporate Partner of the Year award in the 801+ employees category. This award is presented by UWM to companies that give more than $3,000 to the nonprofit and show a great level of dedication to UWM through campaigns and fundraising events.

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