United Way changing its 2009 campaign to needs-based goalsWritten by Michael Driehorst | | email@example.com
The United Way of Greater Toledo (UWGT) will announce its 2009 campaign goal at its Lucas County kick off Sept. 2 at St. Luke’s Hospital, Maumee. Recently, Wood County kicked off its own campaign with an event at Bowling Green State University. The Wood County campaign is lead by Jill Kegler of Kellermeyer Inc. The Ottawa County effort is lead by Steve and Megan Lovitt of Gem Beach Marina.
Last year, United Way of Greater Toledo raised $13.5 million in its campaign — about 10 percent short of its 2008 goal, and 7 percent less than it raised in 2007. United Way’s efforts in 2008 echoed a national trend that saw total charitable giving drop 5.7 percent, according to Giving USA.
“The needs of the community far surpass what our recent United Way campaigns can provide,” said Bill Kitson, President and CEO of United Way of Greater Toledo, in an e-mail interview.
In Lucas County, the campaign chairman is Richard Hylant, president of Hylant Group-Toledo.
Because the community needs typically surpass the annual campaign goals, Kitson said United Way is moving to a needs-based goal. Typically, each year’s campaign goal is based on the previous year’s totals. A needs-based goal, according to Kitson, is determined by the amount of funding requests United Way receives from the programs it plans to serve for the following year.
“There are 600,000 people in Northwest Ohio, and only 30,000 actually give. Can you imagine what our campaign would look like if even just half of the rest of those people gave $50?” Kitson wrote.
Given the current uncertain and unsteady economy, Hylant said giving to United Way is like an “insurance policy.”
“Giving back to help fund United Way 2-1-1 or another agency is almost like an insurance policy for someone you know or maybe even yourself,” he said.
One of the main efforts for 2009, Hylant said, is to get more of Toledo’s larger employers involved.
“We want more penetration among our larger employers in town,” Hylant said. “About 60 percent of employers offer payroll deduction, and that needs to be higher.”
One new twist for the 2009 United Way campaign is the assistance from Toledo-born celebrities and public figures.
“We’ve had pretty good success with our native sons and daughters. They all have been pretty responsive and open to what role they can play and some are even giving their time,” Hylant said.
He said the positive responses from native Toledoans includes the likes of Jamie Farr, who hosted a United Way event during the summer’s Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic golf tournament; author and columnist Christine Brennan; Olympic Gold Medalist Scott Hamilton; Middle East Region Division Chief, U.S. Joint Staff Colonel David Sutherland; journalist and author P.J. O’Rourke, and WJR radio host Paul W. Smith.
Already, fundraising efforts for the 2009 campaign are under way, according to Kitson. In working with the Toledo Mud Hens, United Way initiated Strikeout Paycheck. Companies agreed to sponsor each month of the Mud Hens’ season and donate $10 to United Way each time a Mud Hens pitcher struck out an opponent.
As of early August, that effort has raised nearly $8,000, Kitson said. The sponsoring companies include Columbia Gas of Ohio, BP, The Tyo Team of RE/MAX Preferred Associates, and the Lathrop Group.
In an economy where every dollar does count, Hylant said he can understand that prospective donors want to be sure their contributions are well-spent.
“For those employed in the community, if they subscribe to United Way’s role of efficient giving, of being a watchdog and want to get the biggest bang for their buck, the United Way is definitely doing that job,” he said. “And, it’s doing a pretty good job of it.”