WILKES-BARRE — The United Way of Wyoming Valley is facing a $250,000 shortfall for its 2013 workplace campaign that is set to end Dec. 18.
Bill Jones, president/CEO, said the agency’s board and many volunteers have worked very hard to raise a substantial amount of money, but the shortfall looms. United Way is the region’s largest annual charitable fundraiser that helps fund a variety nonprofits.
Jones said the early projections indicate a probable shortfall of approximately $250,000 below the goal of $3.5 million.
“We need to raise the money to keep our community agencies and programs at the same level of funding as the past two years,” Jones said.
More than 55,000 people received services last year from agencies supported by the United Way, he said. He said the key for the agency to receive donations is for the public to have a better understanding of the massive reach of the United Way.
Jones understands regional unemployment remains high and household expenses such as for health care costs are rising and companies are laying off workers.
“But we didn’t expect such a struggle to reach our goal,” he said. “I believe there are people out there who have the ability to respond — people we haven’t reached yet.”
Jones said volunteers will be making calls to ask for donations. He will ask companies who have held workplace campaigns to go back to employees who have not participated and ask them to reconsider. And he will ask corporations who haven’t made gifts to the United Way to do so.
“We need a call to action,” he said. “We’re letting the community know we have work to do and we need help.”
Jones said if the goal isn’t met there could be an 11 percent reduction in dollars for agencies to share. Programs like early child care help for families with limited incomes could be hurt; counseling hours for people with addictions could decline; shelter hours for the homeless could be reduced; women who are victims of domestic violence could see less support; and transportation for the elderly could be reduced.
Jones said the United Way has more reach than most other organizations.
“Our mission is a powerful one,” he said. “And we’re probably the least understood.”
Jones said the agencies’ budget calls for 85 cents of every dollar raised to go to member agencies.
“We are extremely efficient and very accountable,” Jones said. ” Without United Way support, it would be hard for 24 agencies to raise the dollars in a more efficient way.”
The 2013 campaign is being chaired by Barb Toczko-Maculloch, regional vice president and area sales manager, Community Bank Wealth Management, and is co-chaired by Katie Lambert of McCarthy Tire and Kathy Dunsmuir of PNC Bank.
“Such a large decrease in the campaign will mean a decrease in available funding for our partner agencies and some very difficult decisions will need to be made,” Jones said. “It is likely that services could be cut.”
Jones said the United Way is grateful to the thousands of donors and hundreds of businesses that already generously contributed, and it is difficult to ask for additional support, but he feels as if it would be a disservice to the community if the agency did not make one final push.
“The work of the United Way impacts so many lives each year,” he said. “The call to action is being made and we need to look for some heroes.”