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United Way to miss goal for fund drive

MIDDLEBURY — United Way of Addison County leaders will spend the coming weeks reminding potential donors that there’s still time to contribute to the organization’s 2013 fund drive, which as of last week had yielded around $622,000 — approximately $100,000 shy of the $725,000 goal announced last September.
“We have worked really hard toward that $725,000 goal, but we don’t foresee right now that we’re going to make it,” Nancy Luke, UWAC’s director of development and marketing director, said of how the numbers are stacking up. It should be noted that the organization’s 2013 goal was $25,000 higher than the previous year’s, and represents the first time in four years that United Way had nudged up its annual fundraising bar.
And while Luke and United Way of Addison County Executive Director Kate McGowan are dubious about reaching $725,000, they are very optimistic the organization will eclipse its 2012 harvest of $671,000. United Way funnels important financial assistance to dozens of local nonprofit programs delivering key supports to Addison County residents.
Officials cited several potential reasons why the $725,000 goal has proved elusive. There’s the recovering economy and the growing choice of philanthropies — local, national and international — to which Addison County residents can give. Then there’s the simple fact that some of the campaign’s most senior, generous donors are passing away and the next generation of givers has yet to replace them.
“Now it’s about talking to the middle-aged folks and younger folks,” McGowan said of the need to fill the ranks with new, long-term contributors.
On the bright side, the UWAC’s popular payroll deduction plan has again harvested good dividends this year, with several local businesses increasing their contributions. Among them: UTC Aerospace in Vergennes, which also kicked in an additional corporate gift of $10,000; National Bank of Middlebury; and Porter Hospital. Luke also noted the Courtyard by Marriott in Middlebury launched its first-ever payroll campaign for UWAC.
United Way also staged some new events to amp up giving and pay homage to dedicated donors. They included a “Spin United” event at Middlebury Fitness through which participants raised a combined total of $8,000 in pledges. The UWAC held a special reception at Bristol’s Holley Hall in February to thank people who have donated to the campaign for at least 10 years.
United Way officials continued to stress that donations of any size are welcome — even if it’s just a few dollars.
“It’s the power of collective giving,” McGowan said.
Luke will also reach out to several people who donated $1,000 or more in 2012 as part of UWAC’s “Robert Frost” category of giving. She will ask those folks if they might make similar donations to help cap 2013. And there is still at least one substantial 2013 fundraising event still left on the calendar.
Two Brothers Tavern in Middlebury will host a “Community Squared” gathering in its lounge area on Thursday, April 3, from 6 to 9:30 p.m. Along with live music, hors d’oeuvres and a maple bar, the event will feature a 50-50 raffle. Tickets are $15 in advance, or $20 at the door. The 50-50 raffle payoff is expected to be around $2,500. Tickets are now available for purchase at the UWAC offices at 48 Court St.
Plans call for the UWAC to thank its many donors at a May 29 community celebration at the Common Ground Center in Starksboro. The event will begin at 5:30 p.m. and will feature a barbecue dinner, courtesy of Greg’s Meat Market.
“United Way donors have been able to consistently fund very important programs that make our community vibrant and wonderful,” McGowan said.
Reporter John Flowers is at johnf@addisonindependent.com.

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