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United Way falls short of 2017 target

United Way of Thunder Bay finishes $200,000 shy of $2.55 million goal.
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Mike Gallagher
United Way of Thunder Bay 2017 campaign co-chair Mike Gallagher speaks at the unveiling of the total fundraising amount on Wednesday, February 13, 2018. (Matt Vis, tbnewswatch.com)

THUNDER BAY – The United Way of Thunder Bay has fallen more than $200,000 short of its campaign target, with the organization’s executive director pointing to a changing landscape for charitable giving as a contributing factor.

The results of the United Way’s campaign, which brought in more than $2.34 million to support local initiatives and organizations, were unveiled on Tuesday.

“This will affect our community. There’s no question about it,” executive Jered Zieroth said after the total was revealed.

“We lowered our goal knowing there were some things we couldn’t gain back. This will be a stretch. We still have to go through our allocation process. We still have to finish that to know how much we’re able to distribute to our community, where we can put our focus of our dollars. It will be difficult. It will be difficult decisions for our board of directors to make.”

The $2.55 million goal for the 2017 campaign was lowered by about $100,000 after the previous year’s fundraising efforts finished just shy of its target.

Last year the organization provided funding for 59 programs across 29 community agencies.

“The need is greater than any target we actually set,” Zieroth said. “We try to set a realistic goal based on what we were able to accomplish last year. It’s a bit of art and science. We know where some of our donations are secure and what we’re receiving again and we build out from that.”

The fact that the campaign came up short doesn’t diminish the generosity of donors as well as the time and effort contributed by volunteers, emphasized campaign co-chair Kelly Gallagher.

“We’re really excited and thrilled to see our community consistently step up and raise more than $2.3 million, a great amount of money that will do a lot of good in Thunder Bay,” she said.

The charitable landscape is changing across Canada, Zieroth said, with many other United Way organizations throughout the country also dealing with similar challenges.

“A lot of our donations come through the employee campaign,” Zieroth said, adding it generally takes five new donors to replace every one that is retiring.

“We’re seeing donors retire from the workforce and new donors coming into the workforce, but they’re at a different place in their life. If we’re able to hold onto those donors and work with them, they’ll eventually turn into those donors that they’re replacing.”