CHAMPAIGN — The Salvation Army of Champaign County is facing possible service and staff cuts if donors don't make up a sizeable shortfall in the Christmas fund drive about to end.
Just days remain until the official close of the campaign on Saturday, and there's about a $59,000 hole in the organization's $430,000 fundraising goal, says Envoy Mike Fuqua.
As of Tuesday, contributions totaled $370,703, he said.
"Our goal isn't that much higher than it was last year," Fuqua said. "We were at $425,000 last year and we made it."
The Salvation Army of Champaign County sent out its bell ringers Nov. 11 and also mailed out requests for contributions to local residents.
This is the first time Fuqua can recall the organization not meeting its fundraising goal, he says.
"This is unbelievable in my mind. I've never experienced anything like this in any community I've been in," he adds.
He's been trying to figure out what went wrong, Fuqua says.
The kettle donations ran just slightly below last year's totals, but the mailed contributions were much lower, he said.
"I'm not sure who didn't send in," Fuqua said "We'll look through past donors and see if we just didn't touch somebody or push the right button or our appeal wasn't the right appeal. I'm on my knees right now."
If more donations aren't forthcoming, there will have to be budget cuts, he said.
"I'm not a worrying kind of person, but this is really going to hurt," Fuqua said. "We're going to have to do something significant to make up the difference."
The Salvation Army of Champaign County's total annual budget is just under $2 million, and without its two retail stores the organization has a budget of $1.4 million, Fuqua said.
It has a paid staff of 13 full-time and part-time people but relies on lots of volunteers to get its work done.
Fuqua said more volunteers are already needed to help with the current work load.
"I don't have much wiggle room," he said. "We run on a pretty lean staff as it is."
The Christmas fund drive is a very important part of the Salvation Army's budget, and while it officially ends Saturday, the organization will gladly accept contributions all year long.
All contributions given locally remain in the local community, Fuqua said.
"Feel free to send it. We're open all year round," he said.
Anyone who can, feel free to donate by Saturday, Fuqua urges.
"I wouldn't lose so much hair," he jokes.
Donations can be made in person or by mail at 2212 N. Market St., C.
Though, he adds, it would be nice if donors send their contributions before the end of the fund drive. "I wouldn't lose quite as much hair," he jokes.
Donations can be made:
— In person: at the Salvation Army building at 2212 N. Market St., C.
— Mailed to: Salvation Army of Champaign County, P.O. Box 618, Champaign, Ill. 61824.
— Online at: http://www.usc.salvationarmy.org/champaign . Click on the red kettle.