WITH diminishing contributions, even in a region known for its generosity, the United Way of Greater Toledo is trying a new focus with this year s annual campaign, a change that is critical to meeting and exceeding the challenges of doing more with less.
If donors embrace the fresh approach with renewed enthusiasm, the results could benefit the entire community.
Today, United Way kicks off its annual solicitation to fund the 138 programs it supports, programs that serve thousands of residents in Lucas, Wood, and Ottawa counties. But unlike past years, the primary emphasis of the organization s drive will not be in reaching or surpassing a specific dollar goal. It will be on doing business a new way with pinpointed community priorities and smart investments.
To that end, the agency will evaluate the performance and efficiency of the programs it currently funds but shift its emphasis to a few pressing community needs that would greatly profit from a collaborative effort with the United Way and other interested parties.
The new direction will hopefully not only revitalize the United Way s core fund-raising mission but help the agency become a leading facilitator among different groups in the community working to improve the lives of area citizens.
It s part of an effort to cope with the softening of local charitable giving, which peaked at United Way in 1999 but has been in decline ever since. The drop-off is blamed on a number of factors, among them a weak economy and increased competition from a growing number of nonprofit agencies vying for donations.
Last year United Way s campaign reported a $1 million shortfall. The goal was $13.3 million and the organization received pledges of $12.3 million.
The 2004 campaign chairman, John Meier, who also is chairman and chief executive officer of Libbey, Inc., promised this year s funding-raising goal yet to be determined will be north of the amount raised in 2003. And, if Mr. Meier has anything to say about it, that sum will be raised in considerably less time than before. The bulk of the campaign runs through mid-October.
United Way is doing its part to sharpen its effectiveness and influence as a vital community asset by putting its resources, people, business relationships, and expertise to work better on your behalf.
Now it s time to do your part.