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United Way funding less this year for many

Some organizations receive large funding cuts

The United Way of Clark, Champaign and Madison Counties is cutting by 15.5 percent funding it provides to non-profit agencies in Clark County, a move that could force a reduction in services for some of the organizations.

Last fiscal year, the United Way handed out approximately $824,000 in funding to Clark County. The agency predicts it will distribute $696,000 this fiscal year, which begins July 1.

Several organizations in Clark County will see large reductions in funding this cycle. The Rocking Horse Community Health Center received the biggest cut, approximately $69,000 less this funding cycle, while the American Red Cross received about $45,000 less. Most other organizations that receive United Way funding experienced smaller cuts.

Programs affected by cuts at those organizations will not be eliminated and will seek alternative funding, officials said.

“If the United Way’s money is not 100 percent, it stands to reason that everyone is going to have to take a cut,” said Mike Larson, executive director of the American Red Cross Clark County chapter. “We’d like to see everybody support the United Way and get them back up to 100 percent of their goal, and then they’d be able to support non-profits in the manner in which they’d like to.

“You can’t give money away that you don’t have.”

Overall, the United Way’s 2013-14 campaign raised about $1.5 million over the three-county area, reaching 92 percent of its goal. Clark County raised about $1.1 million, while Champaign County raised $300,000 and Madison County raised about $179,000.

Pledge loss, out-of-county designations and reserves held for future funding reduced the amount of money available, said United Way Executive Director Kerry Pedraza. Based on those factors, the United Way board decided to be conservative with allocation estimates.

“The worst thing we could do is create some real instability for the non-profits,” Pedraza said. “We want to create an environment where there’s as much stability for the non-profits as possible.”

A little over $1 million was allocated for the three-county region. Champaign County agencies received approximately $194,426 for this funding cycle, a 10 percent increase. Last fiscal year, Champaign County agencies received approximately $177,151. Pedraza said a portion of the increase was stored away for future donations. Champaign County also received a large donation from a corporation in the county.

The United Way makes funding decisions based on the second half of its current campaign and a projection for the first half of its next campaign. If the projected amount doesn’t come through, Pedraza said, the organization could end up taking more than 50 percent of the next campaign to fund what it has already allocated.

“If you do that over the course of four to five years, you’re going to come to the place where we are right now,” Pedraza said.

Over the last few years, the United Way was less conservative with allocations as organizations needed more funding during the economic downturn, Pedraza said. She added that as the economy improves, the organization must regroup for the future.

In the previous cycle, the Rocking Horse Center received approximately $100,000, including $50,000 each for its Bridges to Healthcare Adult Clinic and its CHAMP (Coordinating Habilitation And Maximizing Potential) program for children.

This funding cycle, the number was reduced by almost $69,000, with the adult clinic receiving approximately $31,000. The CHAMP program, which helps children with significant medical and social needs, received no allocation this cycle.

“We will have to find a way to make things work,” Rocking Horse CEO Chris Cook wrote in an e-mail to the Springfield News-Sun. “We will have to tighten our belts a little more and seek out new funding.”

The health center expected to receive less funding during the next cycle, but not this large of a cut, Cook wrote. The Rocking Horse is thankful for the donation, Cook wrote, but hopes it’s just a temporary reduction.

“For the short term, we are going to regroup and find a way to keep service going,” Cook wrote. “However, long-term we will have to carefully look at the programs the United Way funding supported and see if we can maintain them. We won’t make a quick decision on this because of how much this will impact the community.”

The United Way board felt the most important need from Rocking Horse was for the adult clinic with the hope that other funding could be found for pediatric care, Pedraza said.

The money allocated to the American Red Cross was designated for its disaster assistance program. The services will still be there despite the reduction in United Way funding, Larson said.

The Red Cross recently helped 48 families who were left without homes after a flood in western Clark County.

“That’s our job,” Larson said. “That’s what the community expects. We hope everybody gets behind the United Way to help them reach their goal so they can do more with their money.”

The Red Cross will have several fundraisers, including a beer and wine tasting, to help support its budget, he said.

“Services are needed today,” Larson said. “Folks are struggling. We’ll just keep trying to deliver good services.”

The United Way has adopted a funding model that shifts priorities to three areas — health, education and income. The latter category seeks to promote financial stability toward financial independence.

The board was saddened by the cuts to both Rocking Horse and the Red Cross, Pedraza said. The cuts weren’t indicative of the program’s successes, but rather based on money available for the allocations.

“If you’ve only got so much money to give out, you’ve got to make those tough decisions,” Pedraza said.

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