Thursday, July 31, 2014

United Way aims for $160K

By CLINTON DICK, Herald Staff Writer | 11/29/2013

Meg Pearson is confident United Way of Franklin County will meet its goal of raising $160,000 by the end of the year, she said.

The official numbers aren’t yet available, Pearson, executive director of the organization, said, but the local United Way has raised about $130,000 so far this year.

Meg Pearson is confident United Way of Franklin County will meet its goal of raising $160,000 by the end of the year, she said.

The official numbers aren’t yet available, Pearson, executive director of the organization, said, but the local United Way has raised about $130,000 so far this year.

“We had the same goal last year, and we did meet it,” she said. “The idea was that no one had seen growth like that before for the campaign. So we wanted to sustain ourselves before we can grow again. We were normally raising around $130,000 [in previous years]. We are absolutely on track to meet our goal.”

United Way raises money throughout the year through several donation campaigns to fund 16 organizations in Franklin County that provide services to people in need, Pearson said. The organizations partnering with United Way of Franklin County include American Red Cross, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Children’s Mercy Hospital, CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), ECKAN (East Central Kansas Economic Opportunity Corp.), Communities in Schools, the Elizabeth Layton Center for Hope and Guidance, tiny-k Early Intervention, Ottawa Recreation Foundation Summer Playground, Habitat for Humanity, Hope House, LifeCare Center for Women, Mid-America Nutrition (Meals on Wheels), Midland Care Hospice, United Cerebral Palsey and the Willow Domestic Violence Center. 

Money donated to United Way this year is used for funding the organizations in 2014, which is important, Pearson said, because the donations can be a large part of each organization’s funding. 

“We pre-raise every year,” she said. “We are a huge part of these organizations’ funding. For some, we are all of their funding. Anytime after Dec. 31, the campaign is over officially.”

After the end of the year, United Way will begin raising organization funds for 2015, but Pearson said there still will be some donations coming in for 2014 because of pledges and corporate donations.

“Some of our corporate donations we have to time with their annual human resources meeting to cover their benefits [for payroll deduction], and there are a few that still haven’t done their meeting, so there are absolutely more donations coming in,” Pearson said. “We are still doing online and individual donations.”

Meeting the organization’s goal is a lengthy process, Pearson said. 

“We have several campaigns every year,” she said. “We have our small business campaign, where we meet and greet all of the small business owners in town. We tell them what United Way does and we ask them to participate. They then become a part of our discount list, so hopefully we can generate some business back into them. Our discount list is passed out to those who participate in the payroll deduction.”

Payroll deduction is one way for employees to donate to United Way by pledging a specified amount of their paycheck to the organization.

Pearson said there are several other ways United Way raises donations throughout the year including an online campaign using Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and e-mail, a corporate campaign, and a small media campaign with KOFO and The Ottawa Herald, as well as an individual campaign, agricultural campaign, restaurant campaign and faith campaign, apart from also raising awareness of United Way at events such as Ottawa University and Ottawa High School football games. 

“Really, it is about making people in the community aware of what United Way is,” Pearson said. “When we go out and talk to the community, we are talking about all 16 of these organizations, how we work together to better our community, how we raise funds to make sure the services these organizations provide are viable and how we also find volunteers to make sure that those services are provided.”

With the large amount of money being raised for organizations in Franklin County, Pearson assured that none of the funds gathered ever leaves the county.

“We only help the local community,” she said. “None of the funding we raise goes out of Franklin County unless someone requests for that to happen.”

With United Way creeping closer to its goal, Pearson said, the organization still needs every donation it can get.

“It takes everyone in the community to make this happen,” Pearson said.

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