12/01/13 — United Way campaign in final push

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United Way campaign in final push

By Josh Ellerbrock
Published in News on December 1, 2013 1:50 AM

Compared to past years, the United Way of Wayne County is a little behind in raising funds for its capital campaign due to lower input from corporate campaigns across the county.

"We're not ahead this year, but we're not way behind either," said campaign chairman Scott Stevens. "We're always encouraging the community to donate through those support networks."

Currently, the United Way has raised around 73 percent of its goal, or close to $875,000, and the final day of the campaign, Dec. 15, is fast approaching. Their goal is $1.225 million. That puts the nonprofit needing $350,000 with little more than two weeks to raise the funds.

Community engagement manager Catherine LeChot explains the shortfall by citing lower incomes from corporate campaigns. Typically, businesses will fund up two-thirds of the entire local campaign, but this year, down-sizing and less employee participation has shrunk corporate moneys by 10 percent.

"I think some if it is that some of the companies are down-sizing. The donor pool has gone down," she said.

Since many companies match employee donations with an overall corporation donation, less employee donations, through less participation and otherwise, can hit United Way's campaign twice as hard.

The regressed economy has also dampened fundraising efforts for the nonprofit over the last few years, and that problem can still be felt today.

"I think we're not in the greatest of economic times yet. People want to make sure that they are taking care of themselves first," Mrs. LeChot said.

United Way has been trying to recoup those losses by continuing to push both businesses and individuals to consider a donation to the organization.

"We write letters and make phone calls and make personal visits," Stevens said.

"My message when I'm meeting with business owners is to just give the employees the opportunity to give. A lot of people, if we aren't asked, we don't think about it."

"Some give to their church and not United Way. Others give directly to an agency. Some haven't been asked and haven't thought about it, and those are the people we want to pursue," Stevens said.

"We're actively trying to get them to support United Way. Sometimes, you just haven't asked the right person. A company might have 100 employees, but you need to find the person to push a campaign."

United Way's campaign helps to fund 23 different programs through 12 community partners in the county.

"The programs range from prenatal classes to meals on wheels, (helping victims of) single-family fires, helping the armed forces, house calls and everything in between. The 23 programs have a far reaching impact on the community," Mrs. LeChot said.

Without the United Way campaign goal reached, those programs will not be funded with "full programming support" and may be reduced, she said.

If United Way does not meet this year's goal, the nonprofit has the option of extending fundraising efforts past the Dec. 15 deadline. Stevens said he doesn't see that happening this year, because it can have a negative effect on next year's campaign. There is a chance, however, if the organization is close to its goal and United Way volunteers need just a few extra days to secure any final donations, he said.

The United Way campaign will end with its fair-share event where fair-share participants, those who donated a portion of their income to United Way, have a chance to win a Mazda 3 donated by Frema Motors.

"If you haven't given, you might be retired or at home reading the newspaper, if you would like to mail in a check, or call the office, we would love to facilitate the investment," Mrs. LeChot said.

United Way of Wayne County can be contacted at 919-735-3591.