When United Way of Douglas County launches its annual fall fundraising campaign this year, there will be one major change.
No longer will its partnering nonprofit agencies be prevented from conducting their own fundraising events at the same time. In March, the United Way board of directors decided to lift the "blackout" rule that prevented what was perceived as "duplicating" fundraisers.
"There are a lot of nonprofits in the community doing all kinds of different things, so to restrict our partners didn't really meet the ends that we were striving for," United Way president and chief executive officer Erik Dvorske said.
The blackout has been in effect during United Way campaigns for as long as anyone can remember. It was lifted as a result of a recommendation of an ad hoc committee formed last year to study the issue, Dvorske said. The committee surveyed United Ways in 50 other locations across the United States. It was determined that 34 of them had eliminated the blackout, she said.
The United Way campaign runs from September to November. The blackout was a result of concerns from the business community that they were continuously getting asked to support nonprofit agencies. They thought the blackout would restrict that.
That wasn't what always happened, Dvorske said. Agencies could get permission from the United Way board for certain fundraisers.
"What happened over the years is the agencies would need to do their events in the fall and they would get special permits," Dvorske said.
There are 25 nonprofit agencies partnering with the United Way, including Douglas County Visiting Nurses Association. Director Judy Bellome was one who was glad to see the blackout removed.
"We're delighted," she said. "We would like to branch out a little bit and do some more fundraising."
The United Way campaign runs into the time when some people are getting ready to make donations to agencies because of the holidays, Bellome said.
"I think this will help us as providers to continue to bring in money, which is what I think United Way wants us to do and not be totally reliant on them," she said.