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Have donors begun to feel the pinch?

The year 2013 was a tough one for the United Way of Brandon and District’s annual fundraising campaign.

In spite of its ambitious campaign target of $777,777.77, the campaign fell short of that goal by $63,777.77, for a grand total of $714,000. Even more unfortunate, the United Way was unable to meet the previous year’s total of $758,000.

Does this mean Brandon and Westman have reached a generosity threshold? We don’t think so.

As the Sun reported in November, donations had slumped compared to the same time the previous year, with corporate employee group campaign donations down substantially.

CEO Cynamon Mychasiw said funds from corporate employee campaigns — which generally make up a hefty portion of the overall funds raised — had decreased by as much as $80,000 compared to 2012.

During the year-end volunteer appreciation luncheon yesterday, where the final tally was unveiled, Jaime Pugh-Clemmensen, the 2013 campaign chair, said the drop in employee group donations took a sizable chunk out of the campaign’s bottom line.

The United Way of Brandon and District has had ambitious fundraising goals for a number of years now, and it’s possible that businesses and other donors are starting to feel the pinch.

Mychasiw had suggested late last year that the numbers in this particular category have been on a downward trend and point to layoffs and "changes in personal situations."

And there may well be other reasons for the overall drop in donations — Pugh-Clemmensen suggested that donors may have decided to support other charities in the community, and internationally for disaster aid.

And yet, although the final tally is certainly disappointing in comparison to the previous year, it would be churlish to call this a bad news story. As volunteer and event MC Bryan Podworny said yesterday when the final campaign tally was revealed, "That’s an awesome number."

To ask corporations and employees to open their wallets year after year is a difficult task, and some years will be better than others — and let’s be frank, $714,000 is nothing to sneeze at. These funds will do a lot of good in the community.

Some of the agencies United Way supports include the Samaritan House, YWCA Brandon Meredith Place, after-school programs for kids and the Helping Hands soup kitchen, which serves more than 200 people every week. Funds are also distributed to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Brandon, Canadian Red Cross, Child and Family Services, Women’s Resource Centre, Youth for Christ, Westman Immigrant Services and many others.

Last November, a good chunk of the decline in corporate employee group donations had been attributed to just two businesses that had staff changes. And campaign organizers also noted that there were several new corporate and individual donors this campaign, which provides a little hope for future campaigns.

The need in this community, sadly, remains quite strong. The United Way board of directors was faced with more requests for funding than there are funds available, and board members have had to make difficult decisions to ensure that donations have the greatest impact on the community.

But 2014 is another year. Let’s make it a good one.

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition January 24, 2014

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The year 2013 was a tough one for the United Way of Brandon and District’s annual fundraising campaign.

In spite of its ambitious campaign target of $777,777.77, the campaign fell short of that goal by $63,777.77, for a grand total of $714,000. Even more unfortunate, the United Way was unable to meet the previous year’s total of $758,000.

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The year 2013 was a tough one for the United Way of Brandon and District’s annual fundraising campaign.

In spite of its ambitious campaign target of $777,777.77, the campaign fell short of that goal by $63,777.77, for a grand total of $714,000. Even more unfortunate, the United Way was unable to meet the previous year’s total of $758,000.

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