Agencies lose, gain United Way funds

More money designated for charities outside Clark County.

However, $45,000 raised locally through United Way has been designated to go to agencies outside the three-county area, according to Doug Lineberger, executive director of the local United Way.

That represents a 60 percent jump from last year — the largest to date — in money allocated for elsewhere.

“We haven’t seen this kind of bump ever,” Lineberger said Thursday. “We hope that’s a one-year trend, but I don’t think so.”

United Way doesn’t have enough information to explain why, Lineberger said, but donors are free to designate where their payroll deductions end up.

People who work in Clark County, for example, but live elsewhere might be designating money for their home counties.

“Donors need a choice. It’s the right thing to do,” Lineberger said. “It’s our job to honor that.”

This year, however, money flowing out of the area outpaced money flowing in from local residents who work outside the area.

“We had more dollars going out and fewer dollars going in,” Lineberger said.

Even with more than 34 percent of working Clark County residents commuting to other counties, according to census data, Lineberger said the local United Way received close to $30,000 less than it did last year from outside the area.

“We don’t really know why,” he said.

One thing, though, is certain — when it comes to the United Way, the $45,000 leaving the area amounts to much more than that. One United Way dollar amounts to $4 or $5, Lineberger said.

While every local agency that applied for funding received money to get them through the year, some organizations received a largely reduced amount from what was received last year.

United Senior Services, which received $51,200 last year, will get $25,444 this year — a drop of more than $25,000.

The Springfield agency that encourages senior mobility had applied for $54,000 in funding this year from United Way, according to Maureen Fagans, the organization’s executive director.

“We were disappointed and surprised,” Fagans said. “We did not anticipate the reduction.”

United Senior Services uses United Way money to help fund three core programs, including Meals on Wheels, which delivered 20,481 meals in Clark County in 2012, Fagans said. The other two programs assist homebound seniors and provide seniors with transportation to medical appointments and for essential errands.

Those core programs will continue, she said, but money will have to be reallocated internally. In past years, United Way money allowed United Senior Services to subsidize other programs, keeping costs down for seniors.

“The need is growing,” Fagans said.

She cites census figures projecting that 40 percent of Clark County’s population will be made up of senior citizens by 2030, “which is just unheard of,” she said. As of 2010, she said, seniors already made up 28 percent of the county population.

“Our services are to help seniors remain active, involved and independent,” Fagans said, adding that it’s a more expensive burden on a community for seniors to go into nursing care.

That mission would seem to complement the local United Way’s new funding model that places an increased emphasis on prevention of issues and skill building.

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.

“It’s getting people help before they need help,” Lineberger said.

Lineberger said the United Way held training sessions to help agencies fit their programs into the three new categories.

Prior to this year, United Way essentially funded agencies on their ability to help those in need, such as emergency assistance.

“With this model,” Lineberger said, “you really have to show how you’re moving people from one point to another.”

Agencies also no longer make emotional pitches for United Way funding in person. Rather, they now apply online, a move that forces them to supply more statistics.

“It’s really a much more objective way of evaluating results,” Lineberger said.

Oesterlen Services for Youth, located on Mechanicsburg Road, received $25,300 more than it did last year for outpatient counseling, according to Lineberger, because “the program we fund is very effective.”

“It’s showing donors that when they give $1, it’s really going to make a difference,” he said. “It’s raising the bar higher.”

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