Long-term success, while desirable, can sometimes breed a degree of complacency. A case in point is the Monadnock United Way’s annual campaign, which has long been the envy of United Way campaigns elsewhere in the state. Annual goals in excess of $2 million were frequently set and seemingly just as frequently met. It’s not that a lot of hard work by many dedicated volunteers and a lot of support from the region’s employers and residents weren’t necessary, and it was also not unusual for the campaign to be extended to allow a late push to get the final total closer to the target, if not meeting it. And that may have, over time, lulled many into assuming that, somehow, the United Way would near or meet its goal each year, even if that required extending the fundraising into the following year.
The changes the United Way has undergone and the challenges the organization has been facing lately have not gone unchronicled. In recent years, the agency has moved smartly to a collective impact model, focusing its allocations on core program initiatives — children, education, financial stability and basic needs. The United Way has organized six collective initiatives, including the Monadnock Home Visiting Alliance, which brings four agencies together to provide coordinated assistance to families with infants and young children. The idea is to provide greater and more effective benefit by pooling resources across similarly focused agencies and programs and to promote greater efficiency in the use of funds.
As effective and promising as these changes are, they are also borne of the significant challenges the United Way campaign has encountered over the past decade. These include the dwindling number and size of major employers in the area, which have historically supplied reliably significant support to the annual campaign, both directly and through employee campaigns. Added to that is competition the campaign has faced from direct fundraising opportunities, particularly online or in other technology-enabled ways, that enable donors to choose to bypass the United Way’s pooled approach.
This new normal has led to a significant scaling back of the United Way’s annual goal, this year to $1.554 million. The agency also fundraises in other ways — this year, the plan is for an additional $383,000 — but the United Way is still hoping for 80 percent of its overall 2019 fundraising to come from the annual campaign.
And this is where the tendency toward complacency becomes a concern. First, in years past, a late push to get to the goal might have come when perhaps 85 percent or so had been committed. The current campaign is now well below target, with not much more than $1 million in commitments thus far, or under 70 percent of the goal. Second, in order to better manage its allocations and provide greater certainty to the various agencies, other organizations and programs that count on United Way support, the campaign will not — repeat, not — be extended into 2020. So if, based on past years, your thought would be to delay supporting the campaign, time is running out and the need remains high.
Particularly during a season that brings out the giving spirit in so many, there are many meaningful and deserving avenues for directing charitable support. But if seeking a region-wide bang for the buck is a priority, the Monadnock United Way’s efficient spreading of critical support for maximum impact can’t be beat. If you want to learn more about how the United Way distributes its funds and how that affects the people of the region, and to make a donation online, go to www.muw.org. You can also donate by texting MUW to 41444 or by calling the United Way at 352-4209. But don’t delay; the Dec. 31 end of the campaign is nigh at hand.