United Way of Butler County seeks public's help to avoid cuts to local charities

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Faced with collections that are significantly short of its goal, the United Way of Butler County is making a final appeal to the public for help, saying that without that help, cuts in allocations to member agencies could reach 40 percent in the coming fiscal year.

Contributions from the annual fund drive stand at $1.38 million — about $200,000 away from goal and about $100,000 less than last year’s collections, executive director Leslie Osche said.

Unless the public opens its wallets and its hearts, she said, the nonprofit agency will be unable to achieve all of its missions. While specific cuts have not yet been decided, Ms. Osche anticipates grants to member agencies could be reduced by as much as 40 percent.

“This will limit what we can accomplish as an agency,” she said. The final appeal ends June 30.

United Way of Butler County funds 33 programs in 20 agencies. Additionally, it contributes staff resources and financial assistance to several community-based initiatives, including the creation of a coalition to develop employment programs for people with special needs. Top priority for funding this coming fiscal year, which begins July 1, will be given to agencies and programs that deal with education and financially unstable families.

Ms. Osche said the decision has been made to avoid across-the-board cuts. Rather, the cuts, if necessary, will be made based on a scoring system that was generated from what is known as a “community investment process,” which prioritizes funding to recipient programs. Also, input was sought from the Butler County Human Services department.

The agency’s difficult financial position results from several factors, she said. Not only is giving down from the community at large, corporate contributions have dropped by about $200,000 in the past two years. At the same time, the agency invested about $200,000 from its net assets to develop technology that would boost fundraising platforms and capabilities as well as create Web-based applications for volunteerism and connecting people to services.

The main annual fundraising campaign began in September.

United Way Butler County has been in existence since 1933 and is one of the county’s largest nonprofits. Its operating budget for this year, ending June 30, was about $538,000. From July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2013, United Way Butler County distributed about $850,000 in grants to member agencies plus another estimated $630,000 to charitable organizations as designated by individual donors. This fiscal year, which began July 1, 2013, and will end June 30, grants to member agencies amounted to about $743,000 with donor-directed designations to other charitable organizations totaling about $520,000.

Karen Kane: kkane@post-gazette.com or at 724-772-9180.

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