United Way fundraising campaign falls short of 2015 goal

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Shelly Birkelo
Thursday, March 24, 2016

BELOIT--United Way Blackhawk Region is projecting it will raise $2.5 million toward its $2.82 million 2015 campaign goal.

President Mary Fanning-Penny made the announcement Wednesday morning during United Way's annual meeting and recognition celebration attended by 300 people at the Eclipse Center, Beloit.

As of Wednesday, “actual dollars in” totaled $2.3 million, Fanning-Penny said.

Several United Way workplace campaigns and global leadership companies had not yet reported totals. The projected 2015 campaign total of $2.5 million would be 89 percent of the $2.82 million goal, Fanning-Penny said.

Based on the projection, Fanning-Penny said it's “unlikely” the campaign could still meet goal.

“We are working hard at it, have a highly motivated and engaged board of directors and acknowledged early on we had an aggressive goal, but at this point it would be unlikely to make goal,” she said.

The Janesville School District is one of the remaining local campaigns yet to be conducted and will be going full throttle after spring break, Fanning-Penny said.

General Motors and Chrysler campaigns will be reported during the second quarter of this year.

“We have many employees that work at those facilities but still live here or have families in the Blackhawk Region who designate back to their hometown,” she said.

In addition, there are other United Way designations that come to the local United Way from other United Ways, said Rick West, resource development director.

“These campaigns have not been conducted, yet, but are included in the projection,” he said.

Although the campaign missed its fundraising target, no cutbacks are anticipated for the 42 nonprofit agencies supported by the United Way in Rock County and northern Winnebago County in Illinois, Fanning-Penny said.

“Despite falling short of our goal, we will be able to honor the $1.94 million grant commitment we made to our program partners this year,” she said.

Meanwhile, United Way will work to grow donor dollars so it can continue to meet the needs of families in the region, Fanning-Penning said.

“We will continue to tell the same story we've always told about how easy it is to give via payroll deduction, how important it is to give because dollars stay local and how appealing it should be because of the accountability for delivering measurable and tangible outcomes in our community,” she said.

Fanning-Penny cited the still-recovering economy as one of the reasons why the goal was not met and why the campaign has under performed four consecutive years.

“While some companies are expanding and adding new jobs, others experienced challenging years, downsized or restructured,” she said.

Competition for donor dollars is fierce, Fanning-Penny said.

“The charitable landscape is continuing to evolve, and donors have more choices than ever before. As a number of capital campaigns launch, they end up appealing to a shared donor base,” she said.

If campaign dollars continues to decrease, United Way leaders will be forced to reassess, Fanning-Penny said.

“We will be providing around-the-clock analysis of how the campaign is performing so when we make the investment decisions (for next year), we will be working with an accurate, conservative projection,” she said.

Seven new organizations already have expressed interest in participating in the next community grant cycle, Fanning-Penny said.

“Our level of need and the documented requests from partners continues to go up,” she said.

Fanning-Penny summarized the 2015 campaign.

“Anytime an organization sets a goal, it is disappointing to fall short, but it's also important to celebrate the success we had,” Fanning-Penny said.

Four workplace campaigns exceeded $100,000 in pledges, 10 new campaigns were conducted and Festival Foods after opening its new store in Janesville immediately engaged in the United Way campaign and pledged corporate support, she said.

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