United Way shortfall cuts funding 7 percent
And if more pledges or donations don’t come in, agencies might see more cuts for 2009.
The United Way collected pledges totaling $1.67 million during the 2007 campaign, but not all of that is in the bank. In fact, United Way officials fear the economic downturn will result in people giving $100,000 less than they pledged.
“The board felt it was important to make cuts now versus in August, when we might see cutbacks for next year as well,” said John Pearse, United Way board chairman.
In July 2007, the United Way announced how money would be allocated for 2008 and 2009 to 80 programs administered by 38 agencies. But the number of pledges in default has convinced the board that those allocations now need to be cut.
The 7 percent across-the-board cuts for the last half of 2008 will total $33,350.
To help compensate for the rest of the anticipated $100,000 shortfall, the United Way board has also:
-- Cut more than $14,500 in United Way expenses and special grants as of June 1.
-- Authorized the use of reserve dollars to offset the loss of campaign collections.
-- Asked partner agencies to review their budgets and reserves to identify additional opportunities for reductions in United Way allocations.
“We are doing what we can to keep program funding reductions to a minimum to meet community needs. Therefore, we must look for ways to work together to deliver program services as efficiently as possible,” Pearse said.
The United Way 2007 fund-raising goal was $1.75 million, but so far pledges are more than $83,000 short of the goal, and the fear is that $100,000 of pledges will never be collected.
Agencies were notified of funding adjustments last week. When the news arrived, agency leaders were not surprised.
“There was disappointment, but not necessarily shock. We all know that the local economy has left people with a lot of uncertainty,’’ said Kerri Parker, executive director of the YWCA of Rock County.
The YWCA board and staff will discuss whether it can maintain its current level of services with the $5,488 reduction.
“I’m going to be meeting with my program directors asking them to go back and see what their options are,’’ Parker said.
The loss of United Way dollars is compounded when the money is used to get matching grants, Parker said.
“I don’t want to give anyone the sense that this community’s nonprofits are failing and in danger of closing their doors, but we are facing a very serious reality that funding is weak at just the time that need is increasing,’’ Parker said.
Those needing help for the first time might not get it from Edgerton Community Outreach, either. The United Way funding cut comes at a time when demand is growing for services through its emergency client services, food pantry and breakfast program.
“I wasn’t 100 percent surprised when we’re hearing about so many layoffs,’’ said Sarah Williams, executive director at Edgerton Community Outreach.
The loss of $600 in United Way funding will be hard felt for Edgerton Community Outreach.
“We’re going to see longer waiting list for programs,’’ Williams said.
Pearse hopes the 2008 United Way fund-raising campaign will help turn things around.
“These are challenging times,” Pearse said. “It’s not permanent but short-term and something we’re going to continue to monitor.
“We’re optimistic with a strong fall campaign cabinet that we will run a successful campaign to offset losses to these pledges.’’
UNITED WAY PLEDGES
How a pledge is collected: When a person pledges a donation to the United Way of North Rock County, dollars often are collected over the following year, such as through payroll deduction. So when someone leaves a job, the full amount pledged often is not collected.
“Many people assume that when they pledge through their workplace we have donor information to follow up if they leave that job. But that is not the case,” said Gail Graham, local United Way president.
How to help: Those who have not had the opportunity to donate to United Way of North Rock County through a workplace campaign can donate through United Way’s Web site at www.uwnrc.org or by calling (608) 757-3040 for other giving options.
-- People who have pledged through their workplace and are leaving that company are asked to continue their pledge in full or part. Call the United Way at (608) 757-3040 for details.
-- When you receive your tax rebate, consider making a donation to United Way.