United Way Blackhawk Region announces $2.82 million campaign goal, its highest ever

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Shelly Birkelo
Wednesday, September 16, 2015

JANESVILLE—United Way Blackhawk Region on Wednesday launched its 2015 campaign to raise $2.82 million, its highest amount ever, despite falling short of its goal last year.

This year's goal represents an increase of less than 1 percent over last year's $2.8 million goal.

United Way did not meet last year's goal, raising $2.679 million.

“It certainly is an aggressive goal,” said Mary Fanning-Penny, president of United Way Blackhawk Region.

The 2015 goal is 5.26 percent higher than the 2014 campaign results.

“We're hearing that our local businesses are not only rebounding but thriving, so we think there is some capacity to see growth in individual campaigns,” Fanning-Penny said.

She said organizers are “excited” and “optimistic” about meeting with community supporters, volunteer leadership and the organization's now full-time resource development director. They have strategies to bring new campaigns on board in the region, she said.

The 2015 campaign officially kicked off Wednesday during the annual Day of Caring breakfast at Beloit's Eclipse Center.

The bigger goal reflects the growing financial needs of the 103 health and human services programs supported by United Way. Those programs are provided by 42 nonprofit agencies in Rock County and northern Winnebago County, Illinois.

United Way has increased its outreach for unduplicated services, Fanning-Penny said.

“Over the past year, more than 130,400 health and human services were provided, for an increase from 94,000 services in 2013. So we're issuing a call to the community to increase their support,” she said.

Fanning-Penny said more people are doing community service projects through United Way's Day of Caring, which indicates support of United Way and the programs it serves.

Participating companies increased from 27 last year to more than 30 this year. More than 75 teams involving 650 volunteers worked on one-day projects Wednesday at 29 nonprofit agencies.

“This level of volunteer engagement is encouraging and on target for another awesome year,” Fanning-Penny said.

Joining Fanning-Penny on Wednesday were Milly Babcock and Kim Hendricks, who are serving as "community campaign champions."

Babcock, of Babcock Outdoor Advertising in Janesville, and Hendricks, a retiree of ABC Supply in Beloit, will offer leadership, visibility and support to the campaign, Fanning-Penny said.

Both women have held numerous volunteer roles in the community.

“These civic-minded advocates inspire by lending personal endorsements for the importance of community engagement,” Fanning-Penny said.

Twenty-five "Pacesetter" companies and organizations have jump-started the 2015 campaign, pledging more than $345,675, Fanning-Penny said.

United Way also has a strong set of leadership circle donors who give at the highest levels, Fanning-Penning said.

This year, campaign organizers plan to reach out to new businesses and those that haven't conducted campaigns in a while.

“While this goal is lofty, it's absolutely attainable with this multipronged effort,” Fanning-Penny said.

Decisions on allocating the money raised will be made by November, she said.

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