United Way exceeds its fundraising goal; agency harvests $651,000 for charity

MIDDLEBURY — Thanks to some very hard work and the generosity of some local philanthropists, the United Way of Addison County (UWAC) has not only reached — but has slightly eclipsed — its $650,000 fundraising goal for its 2016 campaign, which began last fall and concluded June 30.
Reaching that benchmark is a big deal, as UWAC officials in April ruefully predicted the campaign could fall as much as $50,000 short of the mark. The United Way of Addison County has unfortunately fallen short of its annual goal for the past several years, due in large part to competing local, national and international charitable causes, along with the relocation or passing of a growing number of longtime UWAC supporters.
“It looked really grim, and we were trying to be realistic,” UWAC Executive Director Kate McGowan said of the earlier, somber forecast.
But this year’s fund drive has a happy ending, with a reported $651,364 in the coffers as of late last week, money that will be used to help various local nonprofits that provide essential human services to those in need.
It was a campaign that literally came full circle, noted Nancy Luke, UWAC’s manager of development and marketing. The first official donor to the 2016 fund drive last July 1 was also the person who made an additional contribution to put the campaign over the top.
“He wanted to make sure that we made goal,” Luke said.
That individual, who wished to remain anonymous, gave more than $10,000 to the 2016 campaign, thereby putting him in the highest “Tocqueville” category of givers to UWAC. The 2016 campaign benefitted from eight Tocqueville donors who gave $10,000 or more.
McGowan credited Luke, the organization’s board and 2016 campaign co-directors Ira and Linda Schiffer for kicking the effort into overdrive for the home stretch.
“We really took a hard look at who was missing (from the donation list) and did a lot of reaching out,” McGowan said.
United Way officials made a particularly vocal pitch to folks in the organization’s Robert Frost category of those who make gifts of $1,000 or more (of which there are 139 this year). McGowan and her colleagues stressed to these donors the importance of United Way-sponsored programs that help clothe, feed, house and counsel people and wean some from addiction.
“Many of our donors stepped in with additional gifts,” McGowan said.
Also helping push the 2016 campaign over the top was a nice showing from the Chittenden County-based businesses that provide United Way payroll-deduction contributions from their Addison County employees. Luke said UWAC received a combined total of $22,212 through Chittenden County employers.
“It was a better performance than I had projected, based on the fact they had declined several thousand dollars in each of the past few years,” Luke said.
United Way of Addison County officials are already shifting their attention to the 2017 fund drive, which coincides with UWAC’s 50th anniversary. Officials have set the same $650,000 goal for 2017, along with a separate $50,000 for an “anniversary campaign” that will focus on mentoring and creating country-wide programs related to youth employment.
Official roll-out of the 2017 campaign will begin with the annual “Days of Caring” on Sept. 21 and 23. On those days, participating businesses will release some of their employees to work at the various nonprofits that the United Way supports.
“We are hoping our community will be as excited about (our 50th) as we are,” Luke said.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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