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Archive for Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Officials optimistic goal will eventually be met

November 26, 2002

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For the second straight year, United Way of Douglas County has fallen short of its annual fund-raising goal.

But officials said Monday enough donations were still trickling in that the sought-after $1.46 million could soon be in hand, although the campaign ended with only about two-thirds of that raised.

âÂÂMy guess is, to use a political phrase, weâÂÂre just too close to call,â said Jo Bryant, director of the agency that provides funds to 29 county agencies.

This yearâÂÂs goal was the same as that for last yearâÂÂs drive, which came up $64,000 - or 4.4 percent - short. Officials attributed that shortfall to a boom in donations to Sept. 11 charities, a slumping national economy and local businesses that closed or laid off workers.

As of Thursday, when the formal campaign ended, United Way had collected about $1 million, Bryant said. That was slightly more than had been raised by the same point in last yearâÂÂs campaign, she said.

Bryant said some businesses hadnâÂÂt yet turned in their donations, and it could be months before donations from Lawrence residents who work in other counties make their way back to Douglas County. Also, some large employers allow workers to donate through the Internet, and those funds wonâÂÂt be booked until later.

Bryant said a final campaign announcement would be made Jan. 15.

David Ambler, the former Kansas University administrator who co-chaired the campaign with his wife, Mary Kate, said he was optimistic United Way would reach its goal.

âÂÂThe story is, it ainâÂÂt over until itâÂÂs over,â he said. âÂÂIâÂÂm encouraged. A year ago it was pretty easy to tell we werenâÂÂt going to make it. We think we have a better chance this year than we had at this point last year.âÂÂ

Several organizations have fallen short of their goals for the campaign. KU has raised $194,209, or 85 percent of its goal of $228,000. University employees raised $227,019 last year.

Lawrence Public Schools raised $38,494, or 81 percent of its goal of $47,523. Last year, school staff raised $43,467.

Julie Boyle, communications director for the public schools, said impending budget cuts in education probably were to blame for the decrease.

âÂÂThis is a difficult time for public education,â she said. âÂÂThe outlook is just really uncertain. We have an awful lot of people who support United Way who werenâÂÂt able to give this year.âÂÂ

Steve McAllister, dean of the KU School of Law and chairman of KUâÂÂs United Way campaign, said the combination of a staff salary freeze and the Kansas University Endowment AssociationâÂÂs KU First fund-raising campaign hampered this yearâÂÂs university effort.

âÂÂEverybody feels saturated for giving,â he said. âÂÂThereâÂÂs competition for funds.âÂÂ

United Way of Douglas County provides money to organizations in such areas as health care, services for the poor and character-building.

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