United Way seeks to continue upward trend with 2023 fundraising goal

Published 4:21 pm Monday, September 18, 2023

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Annual campaign goal sits at $1.275M


The United Way of Mower County has announced that it has launched its annual fundraising campaign with a goal of $1,275,000. 

In a press release Monday, it was revealed that the theme this year, “Raise Your Hand,” embodies the United Way’s belief in the difference each person can make and signifies the organization’s commitment to ensuring that every person in Mower County has the opportunity to thrive. 

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The goal remains at a level similar to that of previous years, said Molly Lanke, the United Way of Mower County’s executive director.

“It’s really hard to capture the general community need, but it has remained the same primarily because we have not met our goals over the previous years,” she said Monday. “It’s reflective of community needs and issues community members face and services our partner programs are able to provide.”

With the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic still lingering, Lanke said the annual campaign is especially important this year as the United Way continues to try and meet the challenging environment on two fronts — funding and demand.

“Sixty-nine percent of United Way funded programs are unable to meet the demand,” she said. “Sixty-four percent also report seeing an increase. It creates a challenge in the way that we’re not able to meet the demands the way it is, but also we’re seeing an increase in demand.”

Some United Way chapters, Lanke said, are opting not to reveal goals because of these challenges.

Lanke said that Austin’s branch is opting to do so because it provides a visible target for those choosing to give to the campaign and thus helping meet this year’s theme.

“Some United Ways get discouraged when they set a goal and maybe don’t meet it,” Lanke said. “I think we keep it for that motivating goal of together we can close that gap.”

However, there is a positive trend to Mower County’s work. While missing goals in the most recent years, that trend has shown an increase in giving.

In 2019, the campaign hit 99% of its goal prior to a 13% decrease in 2020 because of the pandemic.

However, in 2021, the campaign gained back 3% and then last year it gained another 3% coming short of its goal at 92% and raising a total of $1,174,123.

“We’re not quite back to where we were before the pandemic, but we’re on the right track,” Lanke said. “We’re inching upwards.”

In once again striving for its annual goal, Lanke is hoping community members who choose to give to the United Way will trust the system in place. She and others understand that some may wish to give directly to their favorite organization, but by giving to the United Way, that money is utilized using a broad and branching resource tree.

“We hope donors understand and see the value of the United Way’s donor process and making the donor’s dollar go further,” Lanke said. “Trust the process. Trust we’ll put your dollar to work where it’s needed the most.”

However, there is another goal to the fundraising aspect and that’s making people aware of the many organizations helping people in Austin.

“We have an inspiring message to tell this year. It’s not just about giving,” Lanke said. “Our primary goal is to raise awareness of community needs. If anything, that people are aware of services to turn to in a time of need.”

Learn more about this year’s campaign at www.uwmower.org/campaign.