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United Way campaign goals set with record in mind

The goal for the annual Lycoming County United Way campaign, which kicked off with the group’s Live United in Music concert last month, has been set at $1,612,126 – just one dollar more than the highest campaign total which was achieved around six years ago, according to Ron Frick, president and CEO.

“We’ve set the same goal now for a few years, because my goal when I got here was to never raise less money than the most at the peak of our fundraising. The most money we’ve ever raised in a campaign was in 2012 or 2013,” Frick said. “”The reality is, we don’t raise that much money, obviously, but the goal should never be less than the most amount of money raised. So, that’s been the goal until we hit that goal, and then I’ll make it higher.”

But, the way the group is going about working toward that goal is not what many area residents remember from campaigns past.

It’s all about building relationships, with the members of the community and with community partners Frick said in explaining the difference. The emphasis has moved toward having specific events to raise money rather than relying solely on workplace campaigns.

“I would say the departure from the usual is that we’re trying to get away from a very structured, specific campaign period,” Frick said.

“The challenge has always been that the community sees the campaign running from the beginning of September until the end of November and then we don’t talk to you for the rest of the year,” he added.

Now the campaign begins in the fall and runs until March. Frick noted that by structuring it this way, people begin to think beyond that normal 60 to 90 day period for giving.

“To make sure the community understands that it’s valuable for us to raise resources all year long and not just in the fall,” he said. “That’s been the biggest departure over the last few years, is that we’re trying to break the mold.”

Throughout the year, the group highlights various events of community partners.

“That’s another fundamental change from the way we used to do things to now,” Frick said. “Now it’s more can we get you involved through activities, can we do more special events, can we get the community to understand the impact of what the United Way is doing. And the way we essentially raise the money just looks a little bit different.

“They’re sort of one time, exciting events – that’s kind of the way you raise money anymore. It’s personal relationships and it’s fun. It has to be both of those things. We’ve spent a lot more time building relationships in the community. The relationships with our community partners are significantly stronger than they have ever been,” he said. “We’re attending each other’s events and supporting each other. The way that you approach resource development – I don’t even call it fundraising anymore. It’s developing resources for our organization and it’s just different.”

“The focus has been on showing the community the impact the United Way is making and then the fundraising will come as a result of that. That’s a little bit of a challenge when you’re used to raising as much money as you possibly can and giving away as much as you possibly can,” Frick noted.

Because the campaign started a little later than in the past, the United Way has only been fundraising about a month and traditionally, Frick said, the group does not raise that much at the beginning. Last year’s total was $1.2 million.

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