Members of the Piedra Vista High School dance and wrestling teams, dressed in Cat-in-the-Hat attire, rushed through the room throwing balls and confetti in the air, before campaign co-chairs, father and daughter team Scott Bird and Alli Bird Davis, announced the grand total of more than $3.3 million. This exceeded last year's campaign total of $3.2 million.
All donations from the campaign will go directly to help local partner agencies such as Childhaven, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, the Family Crisis Center, and the ECHO Food Bank.
Lillian Rose, United Way's campaign manager, thanked the various cornerstone companies and organizations present, as well as the campaign teams, for helping San Juan United Way reach its goal.
"This was a challenging year, with the election happening and the economy always changing," said Rose. "But what never changed was the dedication of these teams who never stopped working hard. And we had 100 percent participation from all of our partner agencies. They really put their money where their mouth is and gave their souls to make this happen."
During United Way's workforce campaign, employees wishing to donate could either make an undesignated donation, which will later be distributed among needy nonprofits, or employees could
United Way Executive Director Linda Mickey told the Daily Times that she is noticing a trend toward this latter, undesignated type of donation, which may mean some nonprofits will receive less than in previous years.
"It was a very challenging year, and I think nonprofits are experiencing fundraising shortfalls across the board," said Mickey. "With cuts in state and federal funding, it means that those agencies that are already in need will be even more in need."
Mickey attributed the shift toward designated donations to changes within some local businesses that are usually stronger supporters of United Way.
"There is an uncertainness right now, which is certainly understandable," she said. "I think a lot of people just don't know what's going to happen in the future."
United Way will next turn to fund allocation. Teams of volunteers will be assisting with reviews of the various nonprofit agencies' budgets and plans, and will be conducting site visits. These overviews will allow teams to complete needs assessments and make recommendations for how the undesignated funds should be allocated.
Mickey will soon be setting her sights on the 2013 campaign, and in spite of the changing economy and shifting donation patterns, she is positive about United Way's ability to continue to reach its fundraising goals.
"This is such a generous community, and we are still number two in the state in terms of the amount of funds we raise each year."
Leigh Irvin may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 505-564-4610.