United Way falls short of its goal

Published 6:00 pm Monday, January 4, 2010

Though it raised more money than ever before, the United Way of Freeborn County still came up $30,000 short of reaching its $645,000 campaign goal for 2009, Executive Director Ann Austin said Monday.

After adding up all the last-minute donations, Austin said the entity raised $615,000.

“Six hundred-fifteen thousand dollars is an amazing achievement for our community, especially for 2009 when things have been kind of bleak and uncertain,” she said. “People have really stepped up to give and help others.”

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The funds came by means of fundraisers, donations, employee deductions and corporate gifts.

Unfortunately, however, because the need was not met, the allocations committee will have to meet at the end of January to determine how much will need to be cut from each of the United Way agencies’ requests, she noted.

The allocations committee is made up of a group of volunteer community members who review the applications of the agencies. By February, the agencies should receive a letter letting them know how much is allocated to them.

“What we said all along is we’ll do the best we can with what we have,” Austin said. “We just have to buckle down, and we’ll get through it.”

Though the United Way of Freeborn County didn’t reach its goal, Austin said she wanted to thank all of the volunteers involved with this year’s campaign.

“Our board and allocations and everybody, it’s a hard job sometimes,” she said. “You don’t want to see any agency be cut from the funding it requests.”
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Campaign Chairman Steve Merfeld said though the funds raised were not as high as were hoped, he is pleased with how the campaign turned out.

At a time when most other United Ways across the country lowered their campaign goals, the local United Way actually raised theirs by about $55,000 because of the need, Merfeld said. And they raised more than last year in the process.

During 2008, the goal was $592,000 and the community raised $601,000.

“I’m very pleased with the way we did and how Freeborn County responded,” he said. “I have nothing to feel bad about.”

He said he is grateful and humbled that he’s been able to be a part of the campaign.

The United Way of Freeborn County can be reached at 373-8670.