Campus fund drive short of goal as deadline nears
URBANA – The impact of furloughs and staff cuts at the University of Illinois continues to ripple across campus, apparently affecting donations to charity.
The annual Campus Charitable Fund Drive is about 10 percent short of its $1.4 million goal, with the deadline for donations just over a week away.
So far, the campaign has raised about $1.255 million, just under 90 percent of the goal, according to Tary Finefield of the UI chancellor's office, who tracks the numbers. The campaign began Sept. 21 and officially ended Nov. 12, but donations will be accepted through Dec. 10, she said.
"We're down quite a bit" from last year, said Professor Nick Glumac, vice chair of the drive's advisory board.
Campaign officials blame the struggling economy and the departure of employees through the UI's voluntary separation and early retirement programs, both implemented as part of budget cuts. In some cases, employees prefer to give on their own, rather than through workplace drives, Finefield added.
"We lost some donors," Finefield said Tuesday. "I don't know how many, but I really think that it's going to impact our bottom line."
Employees who took early retirement may have been better able to give, with more experience and higher incomes than younger employees, she said. And many of those who stayed saw their incomes cut through mandatory furloughs.
"It doesn't appear so much that people are giving less, although some are, but that we're losing donors. It may be a combination of both," Glumac said.
The goal for the campaign hasn't been increased for two years because of the economy, Finefield said.
None of this was good news for Lyn Jones, president and chief executive officer for the United Way of Champaign County, which funds about 55 programs run by 35 nonprofit agencies.
The universitys campaign is the biggest source of donations for the United Way's annual fund drive, generating more than $600,000 of the $3.2 million raised last year, Jones said. UI donors can direct payroll deductions to 11 charitable federations or agencies, including the United Way and Community Shares of Illinois.
"It's not good for the community," Jones said of the UI totals.
The United Way's campaign kicked off in early September, but "it's very hard to predict where we're going to be until we know what happens" at the university, Jones said Tuesday.
Her agency works every spring to "recapture" donors who, for whatever reason, have chosen not to renew their pledges.
"Sometimes we get some of those back on board, maybe not at quite the same level, but we get them back nonetheless," Jones said. "We're going to have to really work our tails off in the spring. We won't stop fundraising until the end of the fiscal year (June 30)."
Other charities are feeling the impact of the economy in their year-end fund drives, said Glumac, professor of mechanical science and engineering.
The message he's pushed with UI employees: Donations are needed more than ever during tough economic times.
"When the economy is bad, the people at the bottom are suffering the worst," he said. "We're trying to redouble our efforts to produce as much as we can to help the community."
A spokeswoman for the State and University Employees' Combined Appeal, which includes other universities and state agencies, said totals for that drive won't be released until mid-January.
"We prefer to wait until we have everything in and the process is completed," said Alka Nayyar, spokeswoman for Central Management Services.
On the Web: http://www.ccfd.illinois.edu