United Way faces challenging times head-on, setting goal same as last year’s $1.85m

During difficult and unstable economic conditions, goal setting at the United Way is most challenging; that according to Campaign Chair Brian Black.

“After a lot of careful consideration, we elected to keep the goal at the same level as last year.  We recognize that the need is greater this year because of the economy and aging population, but we also have to be realistic in what we can raise,” he said.  That said, the United Way of Sarnia-Lambton has set a fundraising target this year of $1,850,000.

Black said they began discussing the goal at the end of May, and their projections appear accurate as currently, the United Way has raised just over $310,000, exactly the same amount as this time last year.

“We had hoped to increase our goal this year in response to the increasing client loads with the agencies, but with the recent business closings and workplaces such as Hiawatha Slots, NCO and others, we felt the $1.85 million is a huge challenge for us,” Black explained.

Black said the strategy this year is to increase levels of participation in those workplaces where United Way campaigns already exist, and to focus more effort on smaller workplaces where there might be five or 10 employees.  “There are a number of workplaces where we believe we can set up short, efficient education campaigns about the United Way and the agencies,” Black said.  In terms of increasing participation in existing campaigns, Black said the goal is to conduct as many presentations as possible to tell the United Way story and specifically how contributions to United Way help those in need in Sarnia-Lambton.  “We are also creating more targeted campaign materials to various workplaces,” he added.

Black pointed out that he believed there is a lot of misinformation out there about the United Way. “ I think the more we can tell people about the United Way; what exactly our administration costs are; and where the money is used, I believe people are much more likely to donate.  It is clear to me that most people want to help, but there is a lot of confusion over how the United Way goes about that.”

The United Way of Sarnia-Lambton is the only United Way in Canada to be a member of the Better Business Bureau and has budgeted just 12% for fundraising and administration costs.  Black said the money raised is used locally to fund 22 regularly funded agencies that provide over 35 programs and services.  It was revealed recently that the United Way was randomly selected to be audited by Canada Revenue Agency this summer, and while the CRA cannot legally endorse an organization, it concluded that there was no miss use in how donated money was being used in the community.  CRA select as many as 1% of the country’s charitable organizations to be audited annually.

The 2012 United Way campaign will kickoff officially on September 18, 2012 with the traditional Day of Caring.  On Friday, the United Way will mail out over 6,000 letters as part of its Direct Mail Campaign to retirees, professionals, and others to help kick start the fundraising this year.

The first event of the season will be the annual Black vs. White Sarnia Sting Hockey game on Tuesday, August 28th, 2012 at the RBC Centre.  The annual inter quad game is a great opportunity for Sting fans to get their first real opportunity to appraise this year’s team and support the United Way as well.


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