United Way falls short of 2013 fundraising goal

In spite of “unexpected obstacles” to fundraising, the Lycoming County United Way Campaign raised slightly more than $1.5 million in 2013, the organization announced Thursday.

The amount, however, fell short of the organization’s $1.725 million goal, said Adrienne Wertz, director of resource development and communications.

“Sometimes we’re ahead of the game with fundraising, and sometimes we’re behind,” she said.

Wertz said it was hard to tell what the reason was for the shortfall.

“The economy is definitely a factor … but there isn’t just one thing,” she said.

The United Way, which distributes funds to programs that help community members in need, often works closely with businesses and encourages employees to contribute.

Those companies usually make larger corporate donations as well, so how well businesses are doing has a major impact on how much they can give, Wertz said.

“It depends a lot on how businesses are doing and if there’s a lot of support from the top down,” she said.

The organization also conducts fundraising efforts in the community at large.

“A lot of people are familiar with our name,” Wertz said. “But it’s also about educating them about our fundraising efforts and making sure they know that this is where a lot of it comes from.”

Despite the shortfall of slightly more than $200,000, none of the 38 programs served by the United Way will be cut, Wertz said – they just might get a little less money than they were hoping for.

“Our programs know that funding is not guaranteed from year to year,” she said.

However, she added, most programs often request more funds than they suspect they will receive, so “any amount is welcome.”

The annual fundraising campaign, which starts in the fall and usually wraps up in late spring, provides the bulk of the funds that United Way distributes to its human service programs across Lycoming County.

Through these programs, more than 25,000 county residents each year receive vital services, from emergency dental care to transportation to food banks – areas that always need financial support and will benefit from any amount they receive.

“We can still look at it in a positive light,” Wertz said.

“Our campaign chair (Bill Martin) said it best,” she said. “He said that we still raised $1.5 million, and that’s a lot of money.”