United Fund of Surry looking for help to reach goal

By John Peters - jpeters@mtairynews.com

The United Fund of Surry County is 13 percent off from meeting its $475,000 goal – putting a three-year streak of meeting its goal in danger with a month to go.

More importantly to United Fund officials, if the agency falls short on its goal, that means it will likely have to cut back on the money it can award to its 26 member agencies, cutbacks which can affect members of the community who can least afford to lose help.

The United Fund reported Monday that it had reached 87 percent of its goal, meaning the agency has raised about $413,000 thus far in a campaign that ends March 31.

“We are still waiting on a few workplace campaigns to be turned in, but are still projecting that we will have a $50,000 shortfall to make up,” said Merry Craig Boaz, United Fund of Surry executive director. “We are currently reaching out to businesses that have not yet previously engaged in the campaign to make up the projected shortfall.”

By this point last year, the United Fund had raised 97 percent of the goal and went on to exceed that goal by $15,000, allowing the organization to fully fund all its 26 agency commitments.

”Several factors have impacted this year’s fundraising efforts, the largest of which has been a decrease in large corporate grants from businesses that have been long-standing supporters of the United Fund,” the agency said in a statement regarding the effort. “Some of the decreases can be attributed to changes in how these grants are awarded; from a structure based on service area population to an employee gift-matching structure.”

Another factor has been a decline in donations from Surry County residents who work in Forsyth County.

”These donations, collected by the United Way of Forsyth, have to specifically be designated back to Surry County for them to be received by the United Fund so that it can be distributed to local agencies,” the Surry County group said.

While it has been a challenging campaign year, there have been several highlights including new corporate gifts from Northside Mortgage, Pike Electric, Home Instead Senior Care, and United Plastic, according to Boaz.

“We are extremely grateful to the businesses that have recently opened their doors to hear our message and engage in the campaign,” she said. “The United Fund campaign is an excellent way for local businesses to support the community. Gifts from their company or their employees can be allocated to support 26 local agencies or designated to a specific agency of their choice. ”

Not meeting the annual campaign goal means that the United Fund will have to re-evaluate funding decisions and will not be able to fund agencies at projected levels this year.

“Since agencies rely heavily on these funding projections for their operating budgets, we are doing everything that we can to make sure that we do not have to make reductions to allocations,” Boaz said.

The last time that the United Fund had to reduce allocations to member agencies due to not meeting the campaign goal was 2015.

“Yokefellow Ministries relies heavily on the funding from the United Fund of Surry to help provide food for those in need in Surry County,” said Jan Varney, Yokefellow Ministries board member and volunteer. “If our funding is decreased, that is less goods that can be purchased and distributed.”

Local businesses can still help by reaching out to the United Fund to discuss options for corporate gifts, workplace campaigns, and fundraisers. People are encouraged to check with their employers to see if their company matches donations and to follow up to see if their donations are coming back home if they work out of the county.