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Next 30 days critical to local United Way

Donations to the Lycoming County United Way campaign are running behind last year’s total and, according to Ron Frick, the group’s president, the next 30 days are critical, due to the need to have an idea of how much will be in the budget to help program partners.

“We’re off about $200,000 over last year, but we were up last year, so it’s not as dire but we are definitely down over last year’s results,” Frick said. Last year the local United Way raised over $1.2 million.

“If we don’t make up that difference between now and the next 30 days, it’s going to have an impact on the overall funding we do for community organizations like American Rescue Workers, like Family Promise, which are the subject of a lot of news right now because they are the organizations that we work with that are supporting federal workers that are being furloughed,” Frick noted.

One reason Frick cited for the total giving running behind last year, is that most of the workplace campaigns got a late start, some not until December. About 60 percent of the group’s revenue comes from workplace campaigns.

Although the United Way likes to attach the number of people benefitting from the money raised rather than a dollar figure, Frick said that the monetary goal of just over $1.6 million was set as the amount needed to help 55,000 people in the region.

A change in the way the campaign has been run in the past is another reason Frick noted for lagging donations. He said that in other years brochures were handed out at workplaces and giving began in September and ran through Thanksgiving. During that time program partners were not permitted to conduct fundraising.

Now, that has changed, he said, sharing how there are no restrictions on when program partners can raise money. Also there are no brochures because, Frick said, the money used on printing them could be spent on programs.

Many of the programs that the United Way supports are struggling due to the furloughed workers during the federal government shutdown.

“They always are (struggling), but we’ve been able to increase, in a lot of cases, funding over the last few years for them so that they are able to provide,” he said. “As in the case of the Rescue Workers for example comprehensive emergency assistance program, we fund a lot of that program.”

“Now to put stress on an already stressed situation by adding federal workers on top of that it’s going to get more critical as this goes on,” he added.

One way the United Way is trying to encourage giving is by talking to donors and talking to everybody, making sure all the workplace campaigns done and completed, Frick said.

“Again a lot of this for us is that the donor has changed over the years. They are younger and not as philanthropic as us who have been giving to the United Way for 30 or 40 years,” he said.

“A lot of the younger donors have specific causes that they’re interested in,” he continued. “So to understand the broad community support that the United Way has it’s just a little bit more difficult to explain to them. Whereas my dad and my grandfather would have given to the United Way and I learned it that way. So, it’s educational.”

He noted that people have to understand that the work of the United Way doesn’t happen without the community. “The value proposition is the people,” he added.

In addition to Lycoming County, the local United Way also serves Tioga and Sullivan counties. Monies raised in each county stays in that county to support programs there.

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