CHARLOTTE, N.C. – In the wake of its annual fundraising drive last fall that fell $14 million short of its $45 million goal, United Way of Central Carolinas will distribute $14.1 million this year, down 35 percent from last year, to support 197 programs in four counties.
Of the total, United Way is giving $5.5 million for health needs, $4.5 million for income needs and $3.9 million for education needs.
Those funds represents dollars contributed to United Way’s general “community care fund” and dollars designated by givers that agencies opted to direct to programs funded by United Way.
And while distributions overall fell 35 percent from a year ago, the decline was only 24 percent for income-related needs, compared to 39 percent each for education and health needs.
With fewer dollars to distribute, and demand for health and services growing because of the impact of the recession, United Way says, hundreds of volunteers who reviewed and made funding decisions gave the highest priority to “crisis situations” that call for basic needs such as food, clothing, shelter, health and mental health.
Of the total distributed, $11.6 million went to programs that target higher-priority needs, and $2.3 million went to programs that target important but lower-priority needs, United Way says.
“These are all important community needs,” says Christopher M. Jackson, United Way’s vice president for community building. “This year, the highest priority was crisis situations brought on by the economic downturn.”
Carlos Evans, chair of United Way’s board, says in a statement that agencies that provide basic services reported “unprecedented surges in people needing help, just to survive,” while other agencies that provide services not driven by the economy are “producing last results and we want this momentum to continue.”
Salvation Army Center of Hope, for example, has room for 200 people at its emergency clinic yet has helped over 500 homeless women and children find shelter each night through partnerships with churches and other groups.
And MedAssist, with no increase in staff, dispenses 40 percent more prescriptions than the previous year.
“This year, more than ever, our investment volunteers faced difficult and heart-rending choices,” says Evans, executive vice president and wholesale banking executive at Wachovia.
“Our investment volunteers,” he says, “made hard decisions as they worked to both meet the surge in basic needs and keep long-term important programs running.”
Making recommendations to United Way’s board of directors on funding levels for programs were 18 community investment councils made up of 234 volunteers.
In evaluating the funding decisions by its volunteers, United Way’s staff found that $4.9 million support programs that meet “urgent and critical” needs for basic services to “sustain life now”; $2.6 million support programs that meet “pressing needs” for direct services that, if not met, “could escalate to critical within a short time-frame”; and $6.5 million support programs that meet “important” needs for indirect services that address “underlying needs or are not expected to turn critical with a short time-frame.”