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Martinsville Bulletin, Inc.
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Martinsville, Virginia 24115
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United Way drive only at 50 percent

Sunday, November 25, 2012

By SAM JACKSON - Bulletin Staff Writer

The United Way of Henry County and Martinsville is looking at the possibility of a major shortfall as its Dec. 31 campaign deadline nears.

The goal of $750,000, set in honor of the United Way’s 75th anniversary, is “obviously a stretch, given our area’s financial situation,” campaign Chairman Barry Dorsey said Friday. “But because of the generosity of the people of the area,” he said, he is confident the goal will be met.

Still, Executive Director Tiffani Underwood said the United Way is only halfway to its goal. “The fact that we’re only at 50 percent is a little concerning. We’d like to see that number a little higher,” she said.

Underwood estimated that the fund was closer to 60 percent of the goal at this time last year. Last year’s goal was $800,000, and the total raised was closer to $717,000, she said.

One of the main reasons for this year’s lagging donations, she said, is that some companies that allow employees to donate to the United Way through annual payroll deductions have not yet turned in their pledges.

“Roughly 50 percent of our campaign comes in through payroll deduction,” Underwood said.

Participating companies begin their own donation campaigns as early as July and August, Underwood said, although the 75th anniversary campaign officially began Sept. 21. Though it is possible some companies have been too busy or have chosen to wait to begin a campaign until closer to Christmas, “I would say 75 percent of the companies have completed their campaigns,” she said.

Dorsey said he is confident most of the gap will be made up by the companies that have recently begun their campaigns. “We’re basically at the same place we were the last 2-3 years, since there recession began,” he added.

Other ways to donate include direct billing, in which a person can commit to a fixed amount to give and receive an invoice, which can be paid quarterly, bi-annually or in one payment; or by a direct gift, in which a donor sends in a one-time contribution, Underwood said.

“We do have some people who wait until the end of the year, thinking about taxes,” she said. “That inevitably happens.”

Though the bulk of donations generally come from corporate campaigns, Underwood said this year the United Way is reaching out to new donors and trying to achieve increased commitments from people who have given before.

“Companies have been fairly steady. One thing we’re trying to do is to find those people who maybe aren’t familiar with the United Way and maybe don’t know about the 23 programs we fund,” she said, adding that the United Way offers assistance in the areas of education, health and financial programs in the community.

Underwood said the number of individual fundraising events has increased in recent years, as has the number of appeals to smaller businesses.

“In the past, people were able to make one call to a company that had 500 employees and would have been able to make a nice campaign,” she said.

But now, because there are fewer large companies, solicitors have to make more calls into the community to small business and individuals, she added.

While the deadline is Dec. 31, Dorsey said some companies might not have concluded their campaigns by then. For that reason, the United Way often will extend its campaign into January.

The United Way’s budget allocations committee will meet in February to decide how to distribute the money that is collected in he campaign, Dorsey said.

“Everything is affected at this point” by the budget shortfall, he said. However, he said, “I think we’ll see amazing results once all the numbers are in.”

To donate, call the United Way at 632-3946, visit the office at 134 E Church St. or give online at the United Way website,


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