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Published: Wednesday, 11/20/2002

United Way contributions drop


United Way of Greater Toledo faces a deficit of about $400,000 in contributions going into the final stages of its 2002 campaign, Robert Lucas, president of the charitable organization, said yesterday.

Mr. Lucas said if United Way can't make up the difference, funding to the 68 agencies and 150 programs it serves likely will be cut in some way.

About $14 million has been raised during the campaign this year, Mr. Lucas said. Some $8 million has been turned over to the organization, while an additional $6 million has been pledged through companies and individuals.

The organization will distribute the funds to designated agencies during March and April, he said.

Mr. Lucas attributed the shortfall thus far to a four percent decrease in the organization's workplace campaign.

“That's been our bread and butter for about 50 years,” he said. “We're facing the effects of layoffs, downsizing, and business closings.”

United Way spokesman Kim Sidwell said the organization will follow up on a project it introduced this year in an attempt to attract businesses to its workplace campaign. United Way teamed with Marco's Pizza and sent campaign information through pizza boxes.

Ms. Sidwell said about a third of the 70 targeted companies responded. She said the organization will begin a public appeal through the media in an attempt to reach workers who once gave through workplace programs or whose employers don't have workplace campaigns.

Ms. Sidwell said United Way will allow the public to make contributions through its web site, www.uwgtol.org, by printing a pledge card from the site and mailing it to United Way, P.O. Box 527, Toledo, Ohio, 43697-0527.

“We're trying to find a way to reconnect with those people who used to give and don't because they are no longer with a company that has a workplace program,” Mr. Lucas said. “Some people have also moved on to start their own businesses, and we're trying to find a way to reach them as well.”

Mr. Lucas said direct allocations to specific agencies made up about 11 percent of the local United Way donations and has had little effect on its general fund.

This year's goal is about $100,000 more than the amount raised last year. United Way funds health and human services agencies in Lucas, Wood, and Ottawa counties.

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