Tough decisions ahead for United Way of SDG

Tough decisions ahead for United Way of SDG
Pictured are Lori Greer

By Adam Brazeau 
CORNWALL, Ontario – To fund, or not to fund – that’s the question the United Way of SDG faces as applications for support roll in from local non-profits.

The extended 2014 fundraising campaign peaked at 94 per cent (roughly $665,000) of its $707,070 goal.

And now that the big push for community support is over, it’s time to decide which local agencies will receive a cash injection.

Through advertisements in local media, the United Way announced a few weeks ago that funding applications are being accepted.

“It’s a tough decision to say no or change an agency’s level of funding,” said Lori Greer, executive director of the United Way of SDG.

She noted that the campaign shortfall would not impact any of its member agencies this year.

In 2014, United Way supported Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Club, North Glengarry Youth Centre, Counselling and Support Services, Tri-County Literacy, Equipe Psycho-sociale, Meals on Wheels, SDG Developmental Services, Ontario March of Dimes, Canadian Red Cross, Bereaved Families, Canadian Mental Health, Baldwin House, CNIB, Success by Six, and Beyond 21.

Greer said the United Way spoke to Bereaved Families representatives regarding the upcoming round of funding; a courtesy the organization provides when their financial backing may be reduced or has come to an end.

But she stopped short of making an absolute pronouncement on the status of that agency’s funding.

For its part, Bereaved Families was preparing for the worst last year.

“We’re facing cuts from the United Way and we’re trying to find ways to keep the doors open,” Traci Trottier, Bereaved Families’ program coordinator, said in an interview in November.

To date, only a few agencies have submitted their applications for United Way funding, but Greer expects a barrage of paperwork over the next two weeks.

As BBBS of Cornwall & District awaits a response, Executive Director Amanda Brisson remains confident their longstanding relationship will continue. For 10 years, BBBS has received funding. United Way represents 13 per cent of the non-profit’s budget.

“The reality is every dollar we get, is one less dollar we have to go out and fundraise for,” said Brisson.

She was quick to point out that although the money is a huge boost to their seven mentoring programs, BBBS doesn’t include United Way funding when planning its budget, in case the support is ever pulled.

Jacquie Richards, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Cornwall/SDG, said United Way has supported the youth centre since it opened its doors in 2007.

“We call it core funding,” said Richards.

Without the support, she stressed that the programs they offer would take a significant blow.

Dina McGowan, executive director of the Tri-County Literacy Council, said the non-profit would be a “shell of an organization,” if its funding dried up.

McGowan added that the need for their services continues to grow despite the inability to hire more staff. The funding covers the cost of a volunteer coordinator and the expense of volunteer training. Since April 2014, over 175 adult learners have used their services.

An allocation committee made up of United Way board members, community leaders, and members of the public will make the final decisions over the next few months. The first round of cheques will be doled out to agencies in May, along with several others throughout the year.

In 2014, 74 per cent of United Way dollars went to various community agencies, roughly 12 per cent to administrative fees, and the remaining balance covered the move to a new location, rent, and fundraising expenses.

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