By DAN HEATH
---- — PLATTSBURGH — For the first time in recent memory, the United Way of the Adirondack Region failed to meet its annual fundraising goal.
But United Way Executive Director John Bernardi said the 5 percent gap between target and total is not expected to adversely affect the agency’s ability to fund its partner programs.
The 2013 United Way of the Adirondack Region campaign brought in $736,250; $38,750 less than the goal of $775,000.
2013 Campaign Chair Gayle Alexander of Denton Publications said she never solely focused on meeting that figure, but being able to meet the needs of the North Country.
“With 95 percent, that’s what we got,” she said at a press conference on Friday.
The United Way provides funding that helps 41 health and human-service organizations in Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties. Bernardi said those agencies provide services to about 80,000 people a year, and the amount raised should enable them to provide that same level of assistance in the upcoming year.
He said the campaign faced a number of challenges this time around.
A still struggling economy, closures and/or layoffs at large employers such as Pfizer in Chazy and Rouses Point and the fear caused by the potential fiscal cliff were all contributing factors, Bernardi said. Superstorm Sandy relief efforts were also in the mix for charitable contributions.
“There is a great deal of competition for the charitable dollar,” he said.
It was an honor to serve as chair of the 2013 campaign, Alexander said.
She said the fundraising team was extremely energetic, motivated and eager to step up when new tasks were presented.
“Apathy does not exist in this room,” she said.
Alexander said the United Way staff left no stone unturned in efforts to assist the campaign team. She also credited the assistance and experience of her husband, 2009 Campaign Chair Dan Alexander, publisher of Denton Publications.
Mr. Alexander said that, given the state of the economy, the amount raised this year may be even more impressive than meeting the goal when the economy is stronger. It
is a testament to the generosity of the businesses and
individuals of the North Country, he said.
One of the main goals in identifying partner agencies is to avoid duplication of services.
Through the payroll-deduction process, donors are able to choose where they want funds to go. That can be to a specific organization, to groups in a field such as health care or education, or to the Community Impact Fund.
For the latter, a team of volunteers evaluates applications for those funds and makes allocations.
The United Way campaign allows donors to channel contributions to one agency for distribution. Alexander said many of the recipients are small, all-volunteer groups that would have a difficult time raising funds on their own.
“The United Way becomes that fundraising source for them,” she said.
For the 2012 campaign, the goal of $775,000 was exceeded by $112.
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