United Way of York County launched its annual fundraising campaign this week, amid a souring economy and a recent Charlotte salary scandal surrounding United Way of Carolinas director Gloria Pace King.
Despite the circumstances, local United Way board chairman Brien Lewis said the organization remains optimistic it will meet this year's $1.9 million fundraising goal.
"It's very challenging times economically," Lewis said Friday. "I find when times are tough, people step up even more and help."
Lewis said he is hopeful that people who aren't in danger financially will see their neighbors who are struggling and want to contribute.
Treasurer Chantay Bouler said the economy could mean a drop in donations to the agency, which is considering ways to enhance fundraising efforts. But he said nothing final has been set.
In addition to the economy, Bouler said the agency is concerned it could face a drop in donations after last month's dismissal of King, who lost her position because of a controversy surrounding her $1.2 million salary and benefits package.
The Charlotte scandal has some people who donate to United Way concerned about how their money is being used, said Beth Covington, director of marketing and communications.
"We have worked really hard to explain that each United Way across the United States is individually operated," said Covington.
Bouler said that since the incident with King in Charlotte, the York County agency has received an increase in inquiries about its budgeting practices.
"It is having an impact, but we are reassuring them that very little money is going out in administrative costs," she said.
Records released to The Herald by the United Way of York County show that local director Kimberly Keel, who has a position equal to King's, earned $65,625 in 2007, which includes retirement benefits of $10,481. The agency paid another $203,110 to a staff of six full-time and three part-time employees.
Lewis said the United Way of York County is using its resources to help the people of York County. "It's all about local efforts. Local people helping local people," he said. "It's your friends and neighbors helping your friends and neighbors."
Last year, the York County agency raised just $1.8 million of its $2.1 million goal, which led to a 20 percent cut in its budget.
Bouler said if the goal isn't met, the agencies that United Way funds will suffer. "If we don't meet our goal we cannot fund agencies as much as we'd like to," he said.
The United Way distributes funding from its annual campaign to 37 partner agencies, including local branches of national charities and smaller local charities.
The partner agencies must meet eligibility requirements. They all undergo an allocation process in the spring before receiving funding from the United Way.
Mary Jo Balasco 329-4067
The United Way of York County Thursday held its annual kick-off fundraiser United Men of York County. Community members nominated area men to compete for a spot in the 2009 calendar.
The man in each category with the most money raised was recognized as one of 12 winners. These men will be featured in United Way's 2009 United Men of York County calendar, available in November: Tommy Pope, Ellis Randall, Robert Copeland, Charlie Miller, David Rector, Michael Kelly, Bobby Meek, Shahram Mazhari, James "Bimbo" Armour, Jay Dover, Roy Collins and Algierre "Al" Barron.