The extended economic slowdown that began in 2008 has begun to catch up with the 2012 United Way fundraising campaign for the Central Okanagan and South Okanagan Similkameen regions.
The United Way announced this morning the campaign raised $1,247,588.99, up $18,422 over 2011 but short of the goal set last September of $1.45 million.
Carla O’Brien, executive director of the United Way, said this region felt the drop-off in contributions that many other United Way regions across B.C. felt this past year as well.
“I think the length of the recession, dating back to 2008, showed signs of beginning to catch up with us this past year,” O’Brien said. “The impact of that wasn’t immediate back then but I think we’re starting to feel the impact as it is beginning to figure in more on people’s behaviour in terms of donating their time and money to causes.”
And it’s a catch-22 for the United Way, she added, because when economic times are tough, the need for support from the 26 partner agencies of the local United Way become greater.
“Our services are needed now more than ever,” she admitted.
But O’Brien said she remains upbeat at the successful level the fundraising campaign did meet, and still feels confident the capacity to continue to expand the campaign moving forward still exists in the Okanagan.
There were other positive aspects of the campaign that O’Brien cited in her review of the 2012 fundraising initiatives:
Leadership donors of $1,000; goal was to sign up 50 new leaders; campaign signed up 52 new leaders; Think Recycle program partners, goal was 30 participants, 23 were recruited; Days of Caring business volunteer project program, sought $130,000 in-kind value, achieved $148,745 in-kind value involving 66 projects and 4,281 volunteer hours; Youth Grants distributed, goal was $5,000; end result was $7,500 in Central and $5,000 in South Okanagan regions; GenNext registration, goal was 500 new members; result was 95 on mailing list, 402 social media followers and 350 event attendees.
Other United Way impacts on the community included:
• The Emergency Transit Assistance Program distributed $11,000 free bus tickets to people in need of transportation help;
• Success by 6 brought $191,000 of investment from the provincial government and credit unions of B.C. into the community and leveraged an additional $65,000 in donations;
* United Way received a bequest of $195,000 designated to develop and fund programs to support healthy youth self esteem in the South Okanagan;
* United Way earned almost $39,000 in non-campaign income through grants and endowment income to support impact projects; and
* partnered with other organizations to provide training to more than 80 participants in the non-profit sector on social media and best human resources practices.