United Way sets sights high

Organization aims to make more than ever in fundraising campaign

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In a community known across the state for the generosity of its residents, it's hard to set a fundraising goal that's both realistic and challenging.

But that's what the Moffat County United Way board of directors did this year. The 2006 fundraising campaign kicked off last week with a $375,000 goal -- its highest ever.

"The biggest reason is the need is there," United Way Executive Director Corrie Scott said.

Contributions generally exceed the goal, so the next year's goal is set higher than the previous year's, but within what the community has already shown it is capable of.

This year's goal exceeds all others and exceeds the more than $360,000 collected last year.

"We raised well over $360,000 last year, so the campaign committee said, 'Let's go for it,'" United Way Board President Lila Herod said. "This community always steps up and gives. It's a wonderful community."

In Moffat County, the average gift to United Way is $260 per person.

Less than two weeks into the campaign, the numbers are already looking good. This year's pacesetter, the Craig Daily Press, quadrupled last year's donations by committing $12,040 and 100 percent participation from the 12-member staff.

"This couldn't be a stronger statement of the commitment of this staff to this community," Publisher Samantha Johnston said. "That they'll sacrifice to impact the community says an awful lot about the character of our staff, and the support of our company helps."

Like many of the businesses whose employees contribute to United Way, World West Limited matches its employee's contributions dollar for dollar.

Scott said pacesetters are chosen for a variety of reasons. The Craig Daily Press was selected this year because she wanted to show what a small business could do when all its employees join together.

"The pacesetter has an impact on what kind of campaign outcome we have," Scott said. "They set the tone for the entire campaign.

"This year, we wanted the community to see that, whether you have five employees or 300, if you do it as a group, there's power in numbers."

More than $300,000 was returned to the community last year to 49 community agencies and programs.

Recreational Afterschool Door--way, R.A.D., is one of those programs.

"United Way funds help us expand our programs and offer more activities to more kids," R.A.D. Director Diane Borgard. "They go directly to the kids in our area, not salary or administrative costs."

R.A.D. provides afterschool activities to fifth- and sixth-grade students.

Borgard said that R.A.D., like many other nonprofit organizations, has a tight budget and is coping with funding cuts, so United Way funds always make a difference.

"Every bit helps," she said.

Last year, the United Way received $384,000 in funding requests, but Scott believes that number could have well-exceeded $400,000.

"As federal support dwindles, the state and local governments are having to take over funding some programs," Scott said.

That's where contributions to United Way make a difference, she said.

"We're really fortunate that people give so well to United Way," she said. "Without it, residents could face tax increases to fund the programs the community needs. This way, at least people are giving because they want to. Because they see the need and understand how important it is to the community."

Donors even have control over where their money goes. They can chose to give to the United Way, whose board reviews applications and determines how to distribute the funds. Or, they can donor designate -- list which agencies they want their money to go to. They can chose organizations that already receive funding from United Way or any nonprofit in the community. For example, a person could designate that 25 percent of their contribution goes to Craig Youth Football, 25 percent to Northwest Colorado Legal Services and 50 percent to Craig Mental Health.

Scott said the United Way board of directors is very precise when it comes to distributing money.

"We take this very seriously," she said. "We appreciate the money people give, and we value it."

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