United Way reaches 83 percent of goal

The St. Marys Area United Way succeeded in raising 83 percent or $170,000 of it's 2012 campaign goal, however due to the unexpected loss of a significant corporate donation the organization is facing the challenge of providing adequate funding for it's 16 agencies.According to Sherron McGowan, St. Marys Area United Way executive director, the organization was notified in October that Osram Sylvania would not be matching any employee contributions, a loss of $8,000. Then a week before the campaign closed the United Way learned the company had stopped all employee payroll deductions as well, a loss of $14,000. These changes resulted in a total loss of $22,000 in contributions."We know that OSRAM has historically been our biggest donor. As we see this year, there is no way St. Marys Area United Way would ever make their goal if it were not for Osram's corporate as well as Osram's employee donations. "We already knew that we were going to be down some. It's actually hard to make up $8,000 out of a $205,000 budget," McGowan explained. "We're going to try to figure out what we can do here to minimize the effect on the agencies, but with a $22,000 loss our agencies are going to take a hit."The United Way's campaign concluded on January 31, 2012 with a goal of $205,000 which has been the organization's goal for the past two years. The goal was set in July when the campaign kicked off with the Leadership Club raising $96,000, in which each member contributes a minimum of $500. Fundraising for the regular campaign began in October. McGowan contacted Osram's corporate headquarters in Massachusetts to inquire about the situation and had an interesting conversation, during which she found out the company has a new CEO. She added Osram's former CEO was on the United Way of New England's board and therefore aided in driving the corporate culture of giving to the organization.The St. Marys Osram facility has the highest number of employee contributions company-wide."They are a very generous group of employees. It was not their decision, that came down from the top. This is a testimony to how powerful one group of people can be when they all band together and everybody gives a little bit," McGowan noted. "The people here in St. Marys were just about as shocked as we were. It looked like they found out the same morning I found out."On a positive note McGowan said Osram plans to reinstate employee payroll deduction contributions next year, in which employees may stipulate a specific amount of money they wish to donate to any non-profit organization. McGowan noted that area employees interested in payroll deductions should discuss the option with their Human Resource representative. "It's the easiest way to do it - $5/$10 per pay amounts to huge dollars," she added, emphasizing that perhaps companies that are not matching what their employees contribute may re-consider a matching donation.In an effort to compensate for the lost $22,000, McGowan said the St. Marys Area United Way is considering several options ranging from restructuring agency allocations to applying for local grants.