Statement issued Wednesday:
FORT WAYNE (August 31, 2011) – United Way of Allen County leaders are challenging the community to increase giving to a level that would bring the organization’s fundraising in line with the state average. At a news conference and tour of several Agency Partners, volunteer Campaign Chair Steve Smith announced the goal of $5,339,823. This is approximately nine percent greater than what the community pledged during the 2010-11 campaign, which totaled $4.9 million.
“Allen County’s per capita giving is currently $13.79, but the average for all Indiana communities with United Ways is $15.03,” said Steve Smith, general manager and CEO of Allied Health Physicians and United Way’s campaign chair. “Residents in similar Indiana communities are inspired to support their United Ways at a higher level, and I know we can do at least the same here in Allen County.”
“We set a very specific goal in order to energize local residents and demonstrate the exact amount it will take in order to get our per capita giving to the state average,” said Todd Stephenson, CEO of United Way of Allen County. “This is another key step in a concerted effort to re-energize our fundraising efforts and build an exceptional United Way.”
Donations to United Way of Allen County support more than 60 local social service programs and initiatives and 34 local partner agencies. Funded services fall into three categories: Basic Needs, Success in School and Family Stability. The services are provided for people in need and include everything from child care to health care, from counseling to scouting, and from literacy instruction to shelter for the homeless. The funds are allocated by volunteers who carefully examine each program and its results.
In addition to funding programs in the three priority areas, United Way of Allen County also leads several initiatives. Learn United, an education initiative that connects volunteers with students needing literacy help, and the VITA Program (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) are two critical initiatives.
Smith and Stephenson were joined by dozens of United Way volunteers and representatives of partner agencies. The group visited the Early Childhood Alliance, Vincent Village and the 2-1-1 Call Center. Participants were transported in Community Transportation Network vehicles.
“The tour demonstrates how United Way works throughout the community, not in just one service area,” said Stephenson. “United Way supports programs that help people get through an immediate crisis, such as homelessness, and also funds programming, such as preparation for the GED, that assists people in becoming self-sufficient. In this way, United Way improves life for all local residents by building a stronger Allen County.”
Approximately 300 area businesses run workplace campaigns with about 12,000 individuals making a donation every year. Workplace campaigns generally run September 2011 through early 2012. This year, staff and volunteers hope to increase giving by focusing on the following efforts: 1) improving year-round engagement so donors understand how their dollars are used throughout the year; 2) implementing best
practices in all workplace campaigns 3) building upon an already strong partnership with Organized Labor and 4) reaching out to new donors, particularly those who can give at a leadership level.
“Over the past few years, we’ve been steadily increasing the number of our Ambassadors,” said Chris Rouse, resource development director for United Way. “Thanks to Steve Smith and our Campaign Cabinet, we’ve increased our numbers from about 30 to approximately 130 Ambassadors who visit local business leaders to encourage support for United Way of Allen County. I’m confident these motivated volunteers will help us spread the word about the importance of United Way.”
Anyone wanting to contribute to United Way’s Campaign can give online at www.unitedwayallencounty.org or call 260.422.4776 and ask for the staff accountant.