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United Way campaign falls $131,282 short of fundraising goal

Sue Guinn Legg • Jan 16, 2013 at 8:44 AM

The United Way of Washington County has closed the books on its 2012 fundraising campaign $131,282 short of its $1.775 million goal for 17 local health and human service programs.

Expressing appreciation for the $1,643,717 in contributions raised, Campaign Chairman Tim Swecker said, “I feel disappointment that we didn’t get the goal but we did a lot, which is what we wanted.”

“I’m a half-full kind of guy,” Swecker said. “I want to focus on the hard work of the (campaign) team, the vice chairs and the division chairs, and give an extra thanks to all those who donated. When you think of all that, then you begin to see what the United Way is all about.”

The annual United Way campaign traditionally closes Dec. 31. But with only days remaining to the end of 2012 and contributions more than $173,000 short of the $1.775 million goal, the United Way board of directors voted to extend the fundraising through Jan. 11.

While contributions continued to climb through the end of last week, United Way President and CEO Lester Lattany said any further extension of the campaign would delay the financial reporting the United Way is required to accomplish on schedule in 2013.

“We have to give the report on our campaign to the state and national and worldwide United Way,” Lattany said on Tuesday at a news conference to announce the total collected.

The United Way raised more than $1.725 million in 2011, meeting its campaign goal for the first time since 2007.

In 2008, the United Way fell $179,000 short of its goal and the following year used its reserve funds to avoid reducing its annual allocations to the agencies in the aftermath of the great recession, which resulted in a spike in the need for the agencies’ services. But after three consecutive shortfalls in the annual campaign, the United Way imposed a 15 percent across-the-board reduction its allocations to the agencies in 2010 in order to restore its reserves to the level mandated by the international United Way organization.

While a portion of the reduction in the allocations has since been restored, Lattany said the United Way’s annual support for the agencies is still not back to the level it was prior to 2010.

Swecker said that in the 2012 campaign’s ‘Give from the Heart’ theme, “We asked people to put themselves in the shoes of the people who receive these services. So even if we didn’t raise the funds we intended to raise, we raised awareness of what needs to be done in this community.

“This campaign is over for now. But remember the need continues year-round,” Swecker said.

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