United Way shortfall will cause pain for community agencies

Troy Shantz

Despite coming up short on its 2020 campaign, the United Way is still mighty impressed by the generosity of a struggling community, its executive director says.

Dave Brown

The United Way of Sarnia-Lambton raised 92% of its $1.9 million target, leaving a shortfall of about $174,000 that will soon be felt by some member agencies.

“It’s disappointing that you don’t meet your needs target,” Dave Brown said. “(But) when you take a look at what our community and country has been through, when you take all of that into account, we are beyond grateful to be at that 92% level.”

The umbrella fundraising agency currently helps fund 36 programs run by 18 agencies. It also provides various one-year grants, which have gone to the Inn of the Good Shepherd and Bluewater Health’s new Phase II withdrawal management centre, Brown said.

Because of the shortfall, though, staff, board members and volunteers must now sit down and determine where and how to cut funding allocations.

They will look at agency budgets, surpluses, and how many people are served, he explained.

Member agencies will be given an opportunity to offer input in coming days. Some rely on United Way support for up to 20% of their annual budget, Brown said.

“It won’t be an across-the-board cut. Instead we’ll take a look at what agencies can handle a bigger cut than others.”

Meeting the $1.9-million campaign goal would have guaranteed current funding levels. But enough was raised to ensure all current agency funding will continue until March 31, he said.

Last year, the local United Way succeeded in reaching its target of $1.9 million. In 2018, its $2-million campaign came up short by $31,000.

Brown said pandemic-related cuts made at the office and moving to a new building have saved about $17,000.