United Way donations slightly ahead of 2015 campaign

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Shelly Birkelo
Tuesday, November 22, 2016

JANESVILLE—More than $472,000 has been pledged toward the United Way Blackhawk Region's $2.4 million goal since the organization kicked off its 2016 fundraising campaign two months ago.

Although giving is "slightly ahead of this time last year, we're not celebrating yet,” said Mary Fanning-Penny, president and CEO.

“It's too early to tell,” she said of the campaign's success.

Fourteen of the top 15 contributing workplace campaigns have not reported results yet.

Last year, those campaigns raised a combined total of $1.2 million, which represents half of the 2016 campaign goal, Fanning-Penny said.

United Way has 191 active workplace campaigns that offer employees payroll deductions as a way to donate. Another 104 businesses receive a direct-mail solicitation, she said.

About one-third of the workplace campaigns are completed. However, the vast majority of contributions will be made by the “soft close” of the campaign at year's end, Fanning-Penny said.

“A few may trickle in a little after,” she said.

Outreach during this year's campaign has been more proactive and aggressive to boost giving.

“We've conducted 20 more presentations within the workplaces than last year, and our leadership team is meeting with CEOs of our top 40 campaigns,” Fanning-Penny said.

New this year is a monthly e-mail blast distributed to coordinators of all United Way campaigns.

“That's also been positive in that level of communication engagement,” Fanning-Penny said.

The Campaign Cabinet is working hard to win back 38 campaigns, either through payroll deductions or direct corporate gifts, that lapsed between 2012 and 2014, she said.

Cabinet members also have sought businesses to conduct new campaigns.

“They are actively working to cultivate the following workplaces: Boucher Automotive Group, Cedar Crest, Dollar General Distribution Center, Geronimo Hospitality Group, Impact Confections and SHINE Medical Technologies," Fanning-Penny said.

However, the process of adding new campaigns and corporate donors takes place year-round.

“We invite any businesses or individuals interested in supporting United Way's commitment to the education, financial sustainability and health of every person in every community to contact us,” she said.

Response to the direct mail campaign that coincided with the September kickoff has been “tremendous,” Fanning-Penny said.

“Those donations are up a little over 18 percent over last year,” she said.

While this year's fundraising is off to a promising start, the local United Way has seen a decrease in pledges over the past few campaigns. If that continues, it could potentially affect community programs.

“Our ability to provide grants hinges on the success of the campaign,” Fanning-Penny said.

“For United Way to continue its coordinated and comprehensive response to the needs of the region, we call on every member of the community to give what they can to reach our goal.”

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