Metro United Way kicked off its annual campaign with a goal to meet or exceed last year’s goal. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has more.
Last year, Metro United Way was able to raise $28.5 million dollars. This year, it’s looking to raise at least that much.
Joe Tolan is president and CEO of the agency. He says Metro United Way set that goal by looking at the funds needed to meet community needs — especially during a recession.
“We basically took a look at what is it going to take to meet some of the increased demand in services,” Todan says, “sustain the many other services that are there, and to not take our eye off of the long-term future, which has to do with some of the work we’re doing to help kids be ready for school when they get to kindergarten and to graduate at a higher rate than they’re currently graduating.
Tolan says the agency will work to reach the goal by contacting people and groups it hasn’t reached in the past through work-place giving and other efforts.
“Almost half the people in the community are not asked to give to the campaign,” he says. “They’re not necessarily working where there is a United Way campaign. So, it’s a question of really asking folks who haven’t given before in recognition of the demand for services and the tough times that everybody knows is there.”
Tolan says the amount of the goal was chosen to meet the growing needs that have risen with the recession.
“Across the board service demands are up roughly 15 percent, and some areas they’re up much more than that,” he says. “In the area of emergency food demand, there’s about a 35 percent increase, that’s pretty significant. And many of the people who are part of that increase are folks who have never had to seek that help before.”
Tolan says the agency is working to reach people and groups it hasn’t asked to contribute to past campaigns and is now employing social media to reach them.