For the first time in five years, the United Way of Southwest Colorado did not meet its annual fundraising campaign goal, but the agency's president and chief executive officer said the shortfall will not affect funding to local nonprofits.
Tim Walsworth said United Way's annual five-county goal was $760,000 for 2008, but the organization came up $26,000 short, with a total of $734,000. Walsworth said the bulk of the shortfall came from a drop in the workplace campaign, in which companies and their employees make contributions to the United Way by payroll deductions and corporate matches or gifts.
The workplace campaign accounts for 72 percent of the chapter's annual revenues.
The balance of revenue comes from fundraising events and individual contributions through a mail campaign, each of which contribute 14 percent to the annual total. Walsworth said neither showed a significant drop in revenue last year.
"(The letter writing) part did really well, and I was surprised. My fear was that people's portfolios may be smaller this year, but they gave what they always give," Walsworth said.
United Way's shortfall is neither unique nor commonplace nationally.
A survey of chapters nationwide shows a nearly even mix of meeting or exceeding goals and falling short. Just as in Southwest Colorado, shortfalls are almost exclusively attributed to business and corporate contributions.
At the Durango Community Foundation, which also gives block grants to various local programs and nonprofits, Executive Director Lon Erwin said the overall numbers are down slightly, but it's not because anyone's giving less.
The foundation manages funds created on behalf of donors and charges a 1 percent fee to the fund owner, which is used to issue grants. Erwin said the problem is not fewer funds, but fewer dollars.
"We've had people open new funds, and if those portfolios don't grow, it affects us. We don't have a steady stream that we rely on under most circumstances - legacies, wills, a windfall - so we have a different population," Erwin said.
"My concern is for the individual nonprofits who rely on individuals. In this economy, someone could reasonably say 'I usually write a check for $500 to Big Brothers, but this year I can only do $200' - that's where it adds up," he said.
The local United Way chapter provides funding for more than 80 nonprofit organizations and programs in La Plata, Archuleta, Montezuma, San Juan and Dolores counties. Walsworth said none of the partner agencies will see a difference in funding because the United Way board of directors has banked surpluses in recent years when the chapter exceeded its fundraising goals.
Cuts will be made internally. Staff operations and salaries account for 12 percent of the total budget.
Walsworth said staff and volunteer training will be cut to almost nothing for the coming year, and no staff members will receive raises.
Also, the annual campaign luncheon and award ceremony held at the DoubleTree Hotel was canceled this year to save money.
In place of the luncheon, individuals and businesses were acknowledged on a radio broadcast on Four Corners Broadcasting on Feb. 26.