Leading up to the Western Kansas Community Foundation’s Match Day, an event aimed at bolstering the funds of area nonprofits, Finney County United Way’s nearly six-month fundraising campaign, still in progress, hovered at about 74 percent of its $500,000 goal.

The total, about $373,000, is within approximately 4 or 5 percent of where the campaign was last year, said Deb Oyler, the nonprofit’s executive director as of December. Considering several bumps in the fundraising process compared to recent years, she is wary about meeting the organization’s goal.

If donations fall short, she said, the nonprofit’s 23 partner organizations will face cuts to their expected United Way funding.

“There are a few variables that are out of our control as far as company matches…” Oyler said. “Maybe their businesses aren’t doing a campaign this year because they’ve decided to go a different way with their giving, or we’ve just had some people who have moved away or passed away, and that has an impact on the giving, as well.”

“I’m really nervous about raising the last $50,000,” she said, referring to what would need to be raised above the $450,000 threshold.

The annual fundraising campaign, spanning mid-August through the end of the year, is a staple of United Way organizations across the country and locally raises money for the Finney County United Way’s daily operations and partner organizations.

The organizations, which next year will add new partners the Finney County Community Health Coalition and the Oasis of Peace, also include Big Brothers Big Sisters, Catholic Charities, Community Day Care, Communities in Schools, Family Crisis Services Inc., the Finney County Retired Senior Volunteer Program, the American Red Cross, Garden City Family YMCA, Girl Scouts of the Kansas Heartland, Kansas Children’s Service League, Meals on Wheels, Miles of Smiles, Real Men Real Leaders, Russell Child Development Center, Santa Fe Council Boy Scouts of America, Seeds of Hope Jail Ministry Inc., Building Blocks, Spirit of the Plains CASA Inc., The Salvation Army, Cerebral Palsy Research Foundation of Kansas and the Western Kansas Child Advocacy Center.

The 2017 campaign collected over $525,000 in donations, with the surplus to be carried over into 2019, Oyler said.

Funding for the partner organizations for 2019 already has been proposed, Oyler said, with the intent of providing $42,220 more than last year.

The following organizations are expecting higher allocations in 2019: Big Brothers Big Sisters, Catholic Charities, Community Day Care, the Finney County Retired Senior Volunteer Program, Garden City Family YMCA, Meals on Wheels, Miles of Smiles, Spirit of the Plains CASA Inc., The Salvation Army and the Western Kansas Child Advocacy Center, according to Oyler. On top of that, $20,000 is being dedicated for the first time to the Finney County Community Health Coalition and the Oasis of Peace.

The YMCA is expected to receive the largest allocation, as it did last year, at $29,700. CASA, Meals on Wheels and Community Day Care come in close behind with the biggest proposed bumps in funding: $5,000, $4,000 and $3,000, respectively.

A portion of United Way’s community impact fund will be allocated to the partner organizations in 2019, since the fund is a lesser-known and less-sought-after resource, Oyler said, setting it at $10,000 instead of 2018’s $15,000.

The total cost of the fund and partner allocations is $395,720, the remainder of the goal covering employee compensation, rent and other necessary standard operating costs, Oyler said.

If United Way does not meet its goal this year, 2019 allocations would have to be cut, Oyler said, the logistics and specifics of which would be decided by the United Way Board of Directors in December.

The ramifications of such cuts would ripple through the affected organizations, which would have to restructure budgets to bear some costs usually covered by United Way.

Funds from the campaign support the Community Day Care’s food programs, CASA’s operating budget and after-school programs at the YMCA, among many other initiatives. Cuts could mean the daycare has to dedicate more money to food and less to programming or other line items, fewer volunteer resources and fewer children served through CASA, and limited space and access to some YMCA programs, Oyler said.

“That’s what it means for these nonprofits,” Oyler said. “They’ll have to then use other money that was budgeted elsewhere to make up that difference, which could have an impact on who they serve and being able to provide those services to families and children and the elderly in Finney County.”

As always, Oyler said, United Way sought donations from local businesses, this year presenting with a new video, and encouraged individual donations. It held a golf tournament as part of the fundraiser in August and ramped up its social media presence in regards to the campaign, she said.

Oyler, heading the campaign for the first time, said she enjoyed the process and the groundwork had been more than well established by her predecessors. The nonprofit reached out to new businesses this year, some of which agreed to give and some of which are still considering.

Some businesses or entities have even upped their giving from previous years, including the City of Garden City, which surpassed its donation total from 2017, Oyler said.

In the final few weeks of the campaign, Oyler said, locals could make a significant difference by donating now — anyone can donate quickly online and pledge forms are available at the nonprofit’s website, www.gardencity.net/unitedway.

Oyler said businesses can still set up employee campaigns, and individual donations could go an especially long way if submitted through the WKCF’s Match Day, available today from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in person or until midnight online. For more information, those interested can call Finney County United Way at (620) 275-1425.

“I think the biggest thing for people to understand is that United Way serves the entire county, and we do give funds to agencies, but at the same time, we also have community impact projects that we give to,” Oyler said. ”We’re helping to give a hand up and not a handout, so we really want to be that resource for the community to make it a better community.”


Contact Amber Friend at afriend@gctelegram.com.