Champaign County United Way short of goal by 9 percent

Champaign County United Way short of goal by 9 percent

CHAMPAIGN — Contributions to the United Way of Champaign County are running behind, with less than three months left to meet the agency’s $3.3 million goal.

As of Tuesday, the United Way had raised a bit over $3.03 million, about 9 percent behind where fundraising was at this time last year, says United Way President and CEO Sue Grey.

Workplace campaigns are largely finished, she said, and it’s been great to see the community step up and help.

The total given to date likely reflects what people can afford, she said.

“The economy is still a little rough out there,” Grey said.

The total set for 2012-2013 was the same as the previous year, but total giving in the last year’s campaign exceeded the goal, winding up at $3,473,893.

Grey said what’s been given to date is “awesome.”

“We’re not disappointed in any way. Our board has prepared for this,” she said.

The United Way funds 67 programs and initiatives provided by 37 not-for-profit agencies, and it is currently midway through it’s two-year funding contract with those agencies, Grey said.

Local dollars are critical to human service agencies in the community, she said, because state and federal money sources are unreliable. And local money sometimes brings in state and local matching funds for them.

“Those that are receiving state funding, they’re on edge,” she said.

With the money raised to date, Grey said, the United Way can meet its obligations to those agencies.

But meeting the fundraising goal would provide the United Way with the strongest foundation to address some important safety-net issues in the community, says Pam Hulten, the agency’s director of resource development.

Fundraising is only part of what the United Way does, she says.

She and Grey say the United Way has pulled together community partners to address community issues, such as homelessness, and taken action to help address them.

For example, the family emergency shelter pilot program launched in February was full in three days, Grey said.
There are more initiatives on the way for which funding will be required, she said. Among them will be connecting this summer to the United Way 2-1-1 network to provide this three-digit, non-emergency number to connect people to community information and human services.

Grey said this information and referral service hasn’t been available in the local community, and “it’s time.”

The current United Way fund drive is set to end June 30, but there’s still time to make donations and for employers to get involved, Grey and Hulten say.

“My door is always open. I have a hard time not talking about United Way,” Grey said. “We’re just so blessed in Champaign County with so many generous and caring people.”

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