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Last year's donors to United Way may be this year's recipients

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ROCHELLE B. BIRKELO
August 28, 2008
— Raising money for United Way of North Rock County will be tougher than ever, but leaders of the 2008 campaign say they see bright spots.

“I don’t think there has been a tougher year,’’ said Dave Johnson, who is co-chairing this year’s campaign with Mike O’Brien.


“Right from the get-go, we already knew about 20 percent of our pledge base would be disappearing from last year with General Motors and related companies due to cutbacks. It’s going to be a huge hole,” Johnson said.


O’Brien agreed: “As Gail Graham, president of the local United Way summarized it, in some ways, we’ve been dealing with the perfect storm. Given the national economy as it is, the local economy as it is, gas prices, a tough winter, very wet spring and the manufacturing sector facing tumultuous times in Rock County, the challenges are formidable.”


The campaign, which kicks off Wednesday, Sept. 10, has a goal of raising $1.35 million. That’s $400,000 less than the 2007 goal, which the campaign missed by nearly $100,000.


“Our pledges (from last year’s campaign) are not coming,” Johnson said.


That resulted in cutbacks within United Way and at programs it helps fund.


“In a perfect would, we would like to increase (the goal), but we have to be realistic,” Johnson said.


“It’s only a bench mark and enables people to have a tangible number,’’ O’Brien said.


Johnson, who has been involved with the local United Way for more than two decades, is general manager at The Janesville Gazette. O’Brien is vice president of sales at WCLO/WJVL radio. Both companies are owned by Bliss Communications.


But Johnson said some United Way divisions outside of manufacturing are expected to see increases in giving.


“We asked all of the division chairs at a campaign cabinet meeting what they thought their division could do. Manufacturing was way down. But we had some division chairs who earnestly and honestly think they can show some increases. If you subtract manufacturing, we’re actually showing some gains,’’ Johnson said.


Johnson and O’Brien are asking campaign contributors to step up their giving.


“If you gave $20, to give $25. If you gave $500, give $550,” Johnson said.


“The need can’t be stressed enough. Last year’s donors may be this year’s recipients,’’ he said.


O’Brien agreed: “During these challenging times, we’re taking a soft-sell approach by simply asking people to stop and consider what they can give so our communities can prosper. For the price of lunch out each week, you can help a homeless family regain reliable shelter. Coins spent on soda or coffee each day could help a neighbor cover daycare for her children so she could get a job.’’


Contributions, they said, help children reach their potential, folks meet basic needs and sustain self-sufficiency, enhance the health and wellness of people of all ages and build strong families and better communities.


Lending support to Johnson and O’Brien is a campaign cabinet of other volunteers in more than a dozen divisions from retail to health care, plus 30 account managers, who are using Live United as the campaign theme.


“By giving, advocating and volunteering, United Way gives people the opportunity to get involved and build stronger communities,” O’Brien said.


O’Brien is confident residents and businesses in north Rock County will be generous.


“I have great faith that people want to help. They just need a method, and they need faith in United Way, and I think they have that,” O’Brien said. “United Way has done a thorough needs assessment and scrutinizes programs so the allocations are going to the right programs and people in the right way.’’


IF YOU GO
Who: United Way of North Rock County.
What: 2008 campaign kickoff.
When: 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 10, program and breakfast, followed by a send-off of Celebration of Caring volunteers.
Where: Janesville Performing Arts Center, 408 S. Main St., Janesville.
Cost: Paid by year-around sponsors, but donations are appreciated.
Reservations: Due Friday, Sept. 5, by visiting www.uwnrc.org or by calling (608) 757-3040.
UNITED WAY STRATEGIES

United Way of North Rock County campaign organizers are using these strategies to get people to recognize the need for help in the 2008 fund-raising campaign:


Pacesetter campaign—To jump-start this year’s fund-raising efforts, nine local companies conducted their campaigns early, starting June 25. About $115,000 has been raised, not including one of the larger campaigns, said Tammy Gore, resource development director at United Way.

“A few of the campaigns are still in progress. Results are due in at the end of the week. I anticipate a significant increase in that amount prior to kick-off,’’ Gore said in an e-mail.


“The good news is that UPS set a goal of $22,500 and already has raised $24,000,” Johnson said.


“Boston Store had 100 percent participation,’’ he added.


Speakers Bureau—Dave Johnson and Mike O’Brien, campaign co-chairs, have spoken to five service clubs and will speak to others upon request. Call United Way at (608) 757-3040.
Telephone uniters—Volunteers are making more personal calls to a list of nongivers.

“These people are making more phone calls to current and potential company givers plus to people who are no longer connected to payroll deductions such as retirees from the city or school district and no longer giving,” Johnson said.


Recruiting businesses—Leaders of companies that haven’t allowed United Way campaigns in their workplaces are being asked to give United Way volunteers the opportunity to speak to their employees or send materials that can be distributed to employees, O’Brien said.
Marketing—Businesses have donated upwards of $100,000 worth of marketing time and space.

“You’ll see and hear about Live United everywhere—in the newspaper, shoppers, on the radio, billboards, television and bumper stickers,’’ O’Brien said.


CAMPAIGN CABINET

Members of United Way of North Rock County 2008 Campaign Cabinet are:


Campaign co-chairmen:

-- Dave Johnson of The Janesville Gazette.


-- Mike O’Brien of WCLO/WJVL radio.


Division leaders:

-- Frank Scott of HUFCOR, manufacturing division.


-- Carol Engebretson of the South Central Wisconsin Builders Association, service division.


-- Mark Saunders of Fagan Chevrolet, retail division.


-- Jon Wangerin of M&I Bank, finance division.


-- Barb Kienbaum of Dean Health System and Rich Gruber of Mercy Health System, health care division.


-- Kitty Grant of Adams Elementary School and Sam Loizzo of Craig High School and the Janesville Education Association, education division.


-- James Otterstein of Rock County Economic Development, government division.


-- Gary Bersell of KANDU Industries, nonprofit division.


-- Gil Sedor of Sedor & Hoag, legal division.


-- Penny Patterson of Coldwell SUCCESS and Barry Badertscher of Coldwell Commercial, real estate division.


-- Deb McCool-Cloute of M&I Bank, Edgerton community.


-- Brendon Wilkinson of First Community Bank-Milton, Milton community.


-- Volunteers also are working on the campaign in Evansville and Orfordville.



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