“In the face of national challenges that typically reduce philanthropic support of nonprofit causes, we once again experienced the unique giving nature of our community,” said United Way President and CEO Matt Ryerson. “Through a combination of donations from our annual campaign, sponsorships, endowments and foundations, and exciting new partnerships, we have exceeded our funding needs for the coming year.”
One of those new partnerships is the highly anticipated collaboration with Cleveland Utilities and “Project Round-Up” which allows for utility bill payments to be rounded up to the nearest dollar. Revenue raised by this voluntary program goes toward helping with emergency needs in the community.
“While the annual campaign is within a small percentage of meeting goal, these unique partnerships have provided local organizations innovative new ways to invest in our community and contribute to advancing the common good,” Ryerson continued.
For 2013, an investment in the United Way of Bradley County will provide funding for 27 different programs at 18 local nonprofit organizations. But the model of the local United Way is much more than just fundraising and allocating those funds. The model is focused on stewardship of local dollars by investing in local programs with an impact on the community’s most pressing needs and serving its most vulnerable citizens.
“Our campaign partners are committed to service excellence and we are proud that our community has once again stepped forward to support that work,” Ryerson added.
As its cornerstone, the United Way traditionally tries to finalize the year’s annual campaign by the end of the calendar year; however, this year pledges from longtime donors have been coming in a little later in the year, while one local company has asked to delay its campaign until mid-January due to a variety of ongoing projects it is completing.
“We always try to work as much as possible with our donors, whether they are industries that provide payroll deduction or individuals who may need to make their pledge as close to Dec. 31 as possible,” Ryerson said.
The United Way leader, who is serving his first year as president and CEO, said he is impressed with many of the campaigns held at local businesses and industries.
“To see the pledge totals early in the campaign, from companies like Cleveland Utilities, Cormetech, Lee University, P&G Duracell, Life Care Centers of America, and our local school systems, to name a few … that got us started in a great way toward this successful campaign,” he said. “And the volunteers who served this year, from Board Chair Cameron Fisher to Campaign Co-Chairs Debbie Melton and Richie Hughes, to our division chairs, fund panel chairs and members … they have injected excitement, passion and enthusiasm into our campaign.”
When last reported at the United Way’s Nov. 14 luncheon at the Mountain View Inn, pledges totaled more than $1.9 million, or 96 percent of goal. The official total for the United Way campaign will be revealed in early 2013, either prior to or possibly at the United Way of Bradley County’s Annual Meeting and Awards Banquet held in the spring.
“Please do not feel that since we have met our recommended funding level for our partners that we do not continue to need your donation,” Ryerson said. “Giving to United Way is a great way to help thousands of your neighbors in need through one donation that stays here in our community.”
United Way partners served more than 12,000 people in Bradley and Polk counties in 2012.
There are several ways individuals may pledge to United Way, with the easiest and quickest way being an online donation. The United Way’s website — www.unitedwaybc.com — provides a DONATE NOW link where individuals or businesses may make a donation by credit card.
“Should you need to make a donation before the end of the calendar year for tax purposes, this is a great way to do so,” Ryerson noted.
The United Way offices are currently closed in observance of the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, and will reopen Jan. 2, 2013, but donations may still be made at the office prior to the end of the year by using United Way’s mail slot in the front door to the United Way building on Ocoee Street.
“We hope that from the pledges we are continuing to receive, to the companies that are turning in their totals or holding campaign meetings in January, that we will be able to announce a final total for the 2012 annual campaign as we move into 2013,” Ryerson said.
Next year will mark the 75th anniversary of United Way of Bradley County with many special events being planned to celebrate the milestone.