United Way K-W falls short by $400,000

Photo by Cristina Ruchetta
Photo by Cristina Ruchetta

Outreach for helping the Kitchener-Waterloo community may face challenges this year, as the United Way KW has raised about $400,000 less than anticipated through their annual fundraising drive.

They fell short of their $5.1 million fundraising goal for 2013.

“We knew it wasn’t a stretch goal, we knew it would be challenging to hit, but we certainly thought we had a big chance to do it,” said Peter Thurley, a representative of United Way KW “We really worked hard to hit it, [so] we don’t feel that the goal was unrealistic.”

The organization is currently gathering information so that they can make decisions on how to improve and to see what the reasons were for the shortcoming.

“Whether it was internal reasons or whether there were external pressures, [the United Way] didn’t know about,” Thurley added.
The United Way tackles local issues such as poverty, child and youth health and the well-being of families.

While the unmet fundraising goal may appear to reflect a lack of philanthropy manifesting in the Region, Dianne Boston-Nyp, from the Volunteer Action Centre Waterloo (VAC), hasn’t seen a decrease in engagement.

“What we are seeing is a younger population of volunteers and they like to volunteer in ways different from the traditional volunteering that we have seen in the past,” Boston-Nyp said. “[We] are not seeing a decline, but just seeing a change.”

Boston-Nyp describes the centre as “the chamber of commerce for the non-profit sector,” collecting information for people looking for organizations, while acting as an outlet for the organizations to reach out to the right demographic.

She has found that some individuals don’t consider themselves a “volunteer” despite their involvement with local events.

“There are people that fundraise, people that create events ­— there are a lot of grey areas in the volunteer sector that people who may or may not consider themselves volunteers,” she said.

In terms of whether the United Way KW shortcoming is an indicator of volunteerism on the decline, Boston-Nyp disagreed.

“[There is] nothing different or drastic, but we are having to change the way we do things and because of the economy, and because there are more conveniences with Internet and social media a lot of things can be done in micro-minutes and at home compared to making an event and virtual volunteering,” she said.

Thurley also agreed that the shortfall does not serve as an indicator of a decline in volunteerism.

“We had a very active volunteer base and a couple of events over the past couple of months,” he told The Cord. “We expect that there will be a significant number of volunteers out, so we haven’t seen anything in that front.”

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