United Way falls short of 2017 goal

Published 10:50 pm Friday, January 19, 2018

The United Way of Freeborn County raised more than $473,330 from its yearlong 2017 campaign.

The amount raised was about $56,600 short of the organization’s goal of $530,000.

Executive Director Ann Austin said she was informed Dec. 29 the last two large campaigns of the year were a combined $30,000 less in expected donations.

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“That was a surprise, but I think also something that I was anticipating at some point because of just what’s happening on a local level,” Austin said. “There’s a lot of changes that are happening in our community and continue to happen that affect the workplace, that affect people in the workplace.

“People aren’t staying at jobs as long as they used to.”

Austin said it has been a challenge to raise enough funds to support local programs, but this year she expects United Way will need a paradigm shift and to make “drastic changes” in how it operates.

The United Way of Freeborn County has seen large donations from businesses, but as of last month did not have a relationship with three major businesses, resulting in approximately $100,000 less in donations.

Austin said the organization is facing “some unprecedented challenges” in how social service organizations operate.

“The fact that there are additional strains in the nonprofit world, we can’t make up for the conditions that are happening elsewhere,” she said. “We can’t fill these gaps that are being formed with policy decisions and decisions that are being made within all of the different organizations.”

Austin said Albert Lea has a strong workforce sector, quality locally-owned businesses and retirees who are a gift to their community and encouraged community residents to see how they can help United Way navigate the challenges it is facing.

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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