United Way annual campaign facing shortfall


The 20 partner agencies of the Jackson County United Way face potential budget cuts this coming year unless giving improves significantly.

“Our ability to affect change becomes more and more challenging with less funding,” said Tonja Couch, executive director of the United Way. “Our partners and programs are facing difficult times.”

The goal for the drive is $855,000. This past year’s campaign raised $825,724.

Couch said because many business and industry campaigns still are being conducted, the actual shortfall amount is not available.

United Way officials, however, are estimating it to be in the range of $100,000 to $115,000 or about 11.7 to 13.5 percent.

Couch said a gift from one of the top supporters is pending due to internal changes.

“These changes also included the removal of a strong incentive program that encouraged employees to make a gift,” she said. “Although we have seen growth in many existing and new campaign sites, the impact of losses in one of our top supporters is something we will have to work hard in the coming year to offset.”

Each fall, the United Way works with local businesses and organizations to raise funds that will help the community. This annual campaign provides the support United Way and its 20 certified partners need as they work toward specific goals in the areas of health, education and financial stability, Couch said.

By focusing on these three building blocks for a better life, United Way creates sustainable solutions to the most pressing issues in the community, she said.

The work of United Way, which included funding 23 programs this year, is to understand the countywide issues and how the organization can create collaborations to address the issues without the duplication of resources, Couch said.

More than 98 percent of the money donated to the United Way remains in the area helping families, friends, neighbors, schoolmates and co-workers, and in 2016, 80 cents of every dollar raised was used for programming, she said.

Campaign chairs Rick and Jennifer Meyer are leading the 55th anniversary campaign.

“All you have to do is go visit some of the agencies or meet some of the people (and hear) the stories that they tell about how United Way helps,” Rick Meyer said. “When you hear that, it makes you … think your time is being put to good use and your dollars.”

Jennifer Meyer said she and her husband are blessed.

“We’ve got great jobs, a good family and everyone’s healthy,” she said. “It’s part of our civic duty to do our part and help other people. By doing so, the government doesn’t have to do (that), and our community as a whole is better for it.”

Couch said the United Way needs the community’s help.

She said donors can decide to be billed over the course of 2018 or make recurring gifts through automatic bank withdrawal.

If your workplace doesn’t run a United Way campaign, talk with your manager about starting one before the campaign wraps up in mid-January.

If you’d like ideas for making it fun and successful, contact Sean Hildreth, the United Way resource development director, at 812-522-5450 or at [email protected].

Whatever method you choose or whatever amount you choose, your donation to United Way is a gift to the community that will make a difference this year, next year and well beyond, Couch said.

“At United Way, we meet today’s critical needs and do all we can to ensure that people don’t face those needs in the future,” she said. “We all benefit when our community is stronger.”

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For information about the Jackson County United Way or to donate to the annual drive, visit jacsy.org or call 812-522-5450.


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