United Way president addresses shortfall in fundraising goal

The United Way of York County set a $2.1 million community fundraising goal last August but came up with only $1.8 million at last month's finale.

Individuals and families who gave $600 or more represented almost half of the total. Volunteer hours, leveraged dollars and in-kind contributions were not added to fundraising totals. Volunteer time, for example, is valued at $18.77 per hour, and volunteers gave 5,166 hours this year.

"We have asked people to step up to the plate and give a little more to help those who cannot make that choice right now," said Kimberly Keel, president of the local United Way. "Although we set financial goals regarding the amount we strive to raise, we know that needs continue to outpace our resources."

Here's what Keel had to say about this year's shortfall:

Are fewer people giving or are they giving less?

Because of our transition from a textile-based economy to a manufacturing and technology-based economy, we are seeing changes in how companies manage their employee campaigns -- and some of those are down as the total number of employees decreases. As new industry comes in, we are working to develop relationships to help them see first, the need and then, the opportunity to invest in our health and human service infrastructure. It's important to maintaining the quality of life that brings many new businesses here.

What sectors of donors fell the most?

The education and large-industry sectors saw the largest decrease.

What will the shortfall mean for agencies that receive funding from United Way? Will they receive less?

There was not an across-the-board decrease for programs recommended by our allocations investment team. The teams offer suggestions to agencies to strengthen their programs. It's a rigorous review and accountability process. There will be some agencies that see a decrease this year -- not because their programs are not good, but because limited resources have to be invested in achieving the most good in the most pressing needs.

How will the goals you set in the community report card -- economic health, health and wellness, community safety, lifelong learning -- work into the allocations process?

One of the key agenda items for our vision council and impact teams next fall will be to discuss how the Report Card indicators will overlay with the allocations team work. This will be the third and last stage of our transition to a community impact business model -- that is, United Way emerging as not only a fundraiser, but a leader in convening, mobilizing and facilitating our community's progress. We asked each of our partner agencies to identify in this year's application which of the goal areas their program addresses, and more specifically, which of the indicators their work would influence, recognizing that no one agency can 'move the needle' on an indicator alone.

Are there any plans for changes in future campaigns because of this year's shortfall?

Our campaign strategy team is meeting this week to begin planning for our 2008 campaign that will begin in September. I expect them to make recommendations to our board. We will continue to focus on developing leadership giving -- we often establish our first contact with people in their workplace through employee campaigns, but we want to grow that relationship so that it transcends the workplace -- so that people can be engaged in their community wherever they happen to be employed.