United Way programs to get less money in '09
The United Way board voted unanimously Wednesday morning to cut 25 percent from funding to programs and 50 percent from special grants for agency contingencies, community initiatives and venture start-up.
The 25 percent across-the-board cuts recommended by the Resource Distribution Committee will total $238,218, affecting 80 programs administered by 38 United Way partner agencies.
The 50 percent reduction will total $7,500.
The reductions come on top of $33,350 in cutbacks announced in May for the last half of 2008.
"This is not good news, but I'm hoping something good might come out of it. Someone might step forward and make an unanticipated gift," said Dave Johnson, co-chairman of United Way's 2008 fundraising campaign that kicked off in September.
The new cutbacks came as no surprise to United Way leaders or its partner agencies. The struggling economy locally and nationally resulted in the United Way this year collecting $100,000 less than what people pledged.
Next year, the United Way expects to collect $400,000 less because of local businesses leaving or closing, including General Motors and some of its suppliers who will not be conducting 2008 fundraising campaigns.
"We won't get anything from them," said Gail Graham, president.
"When the plant went down in July, we knew we'd be losing a large portion of pledges and figured on a pledge loss reserve at 6 to 7 percent," she said.
Then when United Way learned the GM plant would lose a line and later close, officials knew they needed to start looking closer at what was happening, she said.
"We knew the pledge loss reserve we'd set up would not be enough. So we looked at what we thought collections would be, and we were certain we would be losing 15 percent instead of the 7 percent we've been seeing the last few years," Graham added.
That's what prompted Wednesday's decision to make further cutbacks, she said.
United Way's goal is to collect pledges totaling $1.35 million during the 2008 campaign that kicked off in September. It plans to distribute $714,665 to partner programs in 2009.
The cuts also will affect United Way's own operations.
United Way has a $505,948 budget this year—$239,395 to operate three in-house programs with the remainder for supporting services—and is looking at a $50,000 reduction to its internal spending for 2009.
"Every line item of the budget will be scrutinized. These are challenging times for all of us. As we move forward, we must all work together to minimize the impact on those we serve," Graham said.
Graham said 2009 would be a rebuilding year.
"We have been known as an automotive community, and those things are changing. So we as a United Way need to change as well. We have learned by what we've gone through. Janesville and all of Rock County will be looking for a new identity as we move forward," she said.
Whether 2009 will bring more cuts for United Way and its partner agencies and their programs, Graham couldn't say.
"I don't have a crystal ball. But the 25 percent cut hopefully ensures that we wouldn't have to go back and make another cut in the first or second quarter of next year."
However, Graham cautiously added: "The economic conditions of our country changes daily. It's very tenuous."
Meanwhile, Johnson said, the current campaign is gaining momentum.
"Many companies are seeing increases in employee participation, and more businesses are running employee campaigns," Johnson said.
"It is our belief that our community and country is strong, and we'll rebound and be able to provide the dollars that these programs need to be successful," Graham said.