United Way raises $13.6M in 2013 campaign

Toledo officials celebrate total just shy of $15.1M goal


United Way officials celebrated the end of the agency’s 2013 fund-raising campaign by announcing Tuesday it has raised $13,605,000 toward its goal of more than $15.1 million.

“We set a stretch goal for this year on purpose. We had a number of companies that had really terrific and strong results and then we have some sectors of our community that are still recovering,”said Karen Mathison, president and chief executive of United Way of Greater Toledo.

The slow financial recovery in the country and in the Toledo area has hampered the agency’s fund-raising efforts in recent years. Last year's campaign total was just shy of the $13.82 million collected in 2012, and just slightly higher than the $13.6 million raised in 2011.

The agency’s highest fund-raising year was 1999, when the campaign pulled in donations of just more than $15 million.

“Right now we are almost flat to last year which is significant. What we are hearing from United Ways across the country it that this is kind of the trend this year across the country in United Ways similar in size to us and larger,” said Ms. Mathison.

About 30,000 individual donors and more than 600 companies participated in the campaign this year.

Ms. Mathison said the campaign attracted 1,000 new donors to the organization.

W. H. ‘‘Chip’’ Carstensen, president of Block Communications Inc. and the 2013 United Way of Greater Toledo campaign chairman, said there is still a possibility the agency may inch closer to the overall 2013 goal.

“We still believe we are in the running for a significant grant, several hundred-thousand, close to a $1 million grant,” he said.

He expects to know the final outcome within the next 90 days.

The nonprofit’s yearly campaign raises money to aid programs and nonprofit organizations in Lucas, Wood, and Ottawa counties aimed at improving education, income, and health.

In the last six months more than 130,000 people have benefited from services provided by the United Way of Greater Toledo, said Ms. Mathison.

She said her focus at the agency is building more transparency and accountability into the work it does so the community has a better idea of where the dollars they donate are spent.

“In about two months we are going to lay out five goals in education, income, and health. For example: We want to be at X percent of kids ready for kindergarten. We are gonna say goals like that. We haven’t done that in the past and I think that will strengthen what it means to be part of United Way,” she said.

She is establishing new goals for how the organization should be run internally to help streamline the work they do, to use technology in a smarter way, and to improve the United Way 211 phone lines that help connect people to services such as heating and food assistance.

The United Way board of directors is expected to approve the new goals at its May 27 meeting.

Contact Marlene Harris-Taylor Marlene Harris-Taylor at: mtaylor@theblade.com or 419-724-6091.