United Way of Butler County seeks answers as fundraising falls short
A fundraising campaign in the red is forcing the United Way of Butler County to do some soul-searching, its executive director said.
“We're not working together. As unpopular as it is, we have to take a step back and see how things function and ask how we're going to change this,” Leslie Osche said.
With just a couple of weeks before the 2013-14 fundraising campaign ends, Osche said the agency is about $200,000 short of its $1.6 million goal. She doesn't expect to make up any ground.
“Until our goals are specifically defined, we're not going to raise additional dollars,” she said.
An agency breakfast featuring awards and volunteer recognition that had been scheduled for Thursday will be delayed until Sept. 4.
Instead, the United Way will meet Thursday with participating agencies and board members to refine its mission and determine what issues it should focus on.
“Financial security and poverty, we're looking at the problems. Have we moved the needle? The answer to that is probably no,” Osche said.
The nonprofit organization raised $1.48 million in 2012-13, $200,000 short of its $1.68 million goal. For 2011-12, the organization raised a record $1.7 million.
Last year's shortfall has meant cuts in funding to various programs, though Osche said she hopes some funding could be restored as the financial picture improved.
The Paul Laurence Dunbar Community Center in Butler Township lost $40,000 this year in funding, which would have gone to after-school and summer programming that serves more than 1,000 children, in addition to other efforts.
“I do believe times have changed with the Internet, Facebook, and Twitter, and all the abilities that agencies have to raise their own money, and with the shortage of dollars, we all have to look at where we're spending our money,” Dunbar Executive Director Heather Dovenspike said.
She added that with an annual budget of $300,000 from federal, state and private sources, the center has made up some of the loss through private donations, but it's still a significant hit.
“All nonprofits need to get better administratively,” Dovenspike said.
Osche noted that the United Way cut funding to one food program in Butler. But there's another non-United Way agency within a half-mile that serves hundreds of people.
“Feeding more and more isn't solving the problem. It isn't changing people's financial security. We're not working together,” Osche said.
The United Way of Allegheny County announced this month that it raised nearly $34 million in its 2013 campaign, the fourth straight year-over-year increase. But, as in Butler, other smaller United Way chapters are struggling.
The United Way of Beaver County extended its fundraising campaign through July, hoping to raise nearly $700,000 of its $750,000 goal.
“It's the economy, and the loss of high-paying jobs in the workplace,” Executive Director Bruce Simmeth said. “The backbone of giving for the United Way is payroll deductions, and we've lost a lot of high-paying positions. Entire companies have closed their doors here.”
Osche said her organization has lost money from corporate partners, but she would not identify them.
One of Butler County's largest employers, AK Steel, with nearly 1,300 employees, has remained consistent with its corporate and payroll donations over the past several years, giving about $150,000 annually, said spokesman Mike Wallner.
“The United Way has been supporting the community for so many years, and we're proud to contribute,” Wallner said.
Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- New book boasts of Butler being home to 1st Jeep
- Festival organizers aim to break record for Jeeps on display
- Butler County residents work to make house tours memorable
- Congressman Kelly wants to buy part of Butler Blue Sox
- Zelienople company builds on Christmas lighting tradition
- Regional police department to make its debut Jan. 1
- Allowing website access a school dilemma
- Freedom Road traffic to be restricted in Cranberry
- Mars Community Pool not likely to reopen in 2015
- Adams man faces trial on charges of misusing stepdaughter’s student loans