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Forgoing a monetary goal worked out well for United Way of Central Kentucky as its latest campaign draws to a close.
The agency set an all-time benchmark in fundraising, raising more than $1.1 million during its campaign, which will be disbursed later this year to local organizations meeting criteria for funding. The final amount as of Thursday afternoon reached $1,162,606.97.
The total represents a 12.7 percent increase in giving from last year. It is the highest single-year increase in the agency’s history and the first back-to-back $1 million campaigns recorded.
United Way made an banner presenting the total, but Executive Director Christopher Wilborn said a last-minute infusion of $10,000 increased the amount beyond what was depicted.
A number of variables contributed to the level of money collected, including a series of record-breaking workplace campaigns and a community dedicated to meeting the need, Wilborn said.
“When they (see) the need, they respond,” Wilborn said.
The heavy lifting of leadership givers also helped, which is the group of donors pledged to give anywhere from $500 to $10,000.
The agency hoped to reach 500 leadership givers by the campaign’s end. Wilborn said the number came close with 420 to 440 donors now enrolled in the leadership program, equating to an increase of more than 56 percent. Leadership giving produced about one-quarter of overall giving in recent years, but that number is now closer to 35 percent, he said.
The organization also attracted 12 new corporate partners during the campaign, he said.
The agency asked residents who have never given to United Way to offer a one-time investment of $10 and called on existing donors to increase giving by either $10 per pay period or 10 percent, tying into the decade of difference adopted by the agency as it celebrates its 10th anniversary.
By refusing to set a monetary goal, the organization hopes to move away from strictly being known as a fundraising organization, staking an identity as a philanthropic organization with a focus on advocacy, volunteerism and changing lives.
Wilborn said the agency should hold itself to a higher standard.
“Did we impact one person’s life?” Wilborn said after the news conference. “Did we impact a thousand people’s lives?”
The deadline for organizations to apply for money through United Way is March 27. Eighteen organizations received money last year, and the money benefited roughly 80,000 people.
When asked if the agency has stopped setting fixed financial goals, Wilborn said several options have been discussed for the future, including the concept of a multi-year goal.
Campaign Chairman Scott Guenther said some thought the agency was “sand bagging” when it declined to set a monetary goal. The hope, he said, was to shift the focus off the numbers and lead the community to examine the impact of each dollar.
Jerrod Davis, a representative from Twin Lakes Regional Medical Center in Leitchfield, said United Way’s reach touches more than half of those residing in Grayson County.
“Every dollar we receive is going to (impact) someone you know,” Davis said.
Kendra Stewart Scott, a United Way board member, said she has watched the money increase and the agency grow from infancy, comparing the process to caring for a baby. She invited the public to get involved in United Way and see firsthand how it raises money and impacts the common good.
“They’ll see the difference,” she said.
Pam Bowling, campaign manager for Dow Corning Corp., said she was proud of her organization because it shattered a workforce benchmark, raising more than $113,000. Employee giving exceeded the corporate match, Bowling said.
David Dozer, executive director of Helping Hand of Hope, said funding that his agency receives each year from United Way is crucial, describing the agency as a positive influence in Breckinridge, Grayson, Hardin, LaRue and Meade counties. He said the total raised this year is “unbelievable.”
“United Way should be commended,” he said.
Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A decade of giving