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Nonprofits receive reduced grants from United Way

United Way 2019 campaign contributions decreased, leading in part to reduction in grant amounts

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  • 3 min to read
bob stephenson

MAKING ENDS MEET — Bob Stephenson, director of the Literacy Coalition, sits in his office last week. His nonprofit received a 55-percent cut in grant funding from the United Way this year.

Some local nonprofits that have programs funded by United Way are scrambling to make up for lost revenue after being informed of reduced grant amounts this year.

Each year, United Way allocates grants to 14 area nonprofits’ programs using funds raised through its annual campaign, and this year, all of the nonprofits received cuts to their funding, amounting to approximately $300,800 less being distributed. According to United Way President Abbie Smith, part of the reason for the grant reductions was because 2019 campaign contributions were down.

“Our overall fund raising was down, mostly due to the loss of a large workplace campaign that traditionally raises around $300,000 and an additional corporate gift of $25,000. Those were both unforeseen until late in the year. We are working hard to connect with those donors who were previously able to give through payroll deduction to find a way for them to give to United Way directly,” said Smith.

The 2019 campaign brought in approximately $1,500,000, which was down from the amount raised in 2018 at around $1,800,000.

The nonprofits that received grant reductions in comparison to last year were American Red Cross (from $39,000 to $10,000), Bona Vista Programs (from $81,000 to $64,800), Boy Scouts (from $36,000 to $21,600), Carver Community Center (from $65,130 to $17,250), Family Service Association of Howard County (from $132,600 to $114,787.80), Food Finders Food Bank (from $60,000 to $48,000), Girl Scouts (from $27,500 to $16,500), Literacy Coalition (from $45,095 to $20,287.80), Mental Health America (from $48,478.80 to $17,250), Project Access (from $42,000 to $15,250), Salvation Army (from $30,000 to $10,500), and Kokomo Family YMCA (from $26,880 to $17,058).

Bob Stephenson, executive director of the Literacy Coalition, said the 55-percent cut presents a challenge to his organization.

“United Way has made up right around 50 percent of our budget over the years. It’s a huge amount to make up. We’re struggling to come up with plans to do that,” said Stephenson.

Samaritan Caregivers also received a significant cut, and its executive director, Jamey Henderson, said United Way’s funding is critical to her nonprofit’s operations.

“ … I was very quick to say when I had my presentation during the campaign in past years, there were days, months, years when the doors of Samaritan Caregivers would have flung closed had it not been for the funding of the United Way,” Henderson said.

Now with a reduction to funding, Henderson launched an online fund raiser to try to make up for the lost revenue. The campaign can be found on Facebook at “Samaritan Caregivers Annual Campaign,” and $790 of the set $50,000 goal had been raised as of press time.

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“Samaritan Caregivers is conducting a campaign to raise $50,000. Why now? A significant funding reduction from the United Way of Howard & Tipton Counties and a downturn in contributions due to COVID-19 have created a critical shortfall in our funds that help seniors,” read the fund raiser page.

Likewise, Mental Health America also was hit with a significant cut in funding this year. However, Jill McKibben, executive director of Mental Health America, said she was understanding of the allocation decreases.

“We all have difficulty fund raising from time to time. I get that,” McKibben said. “Especially with COVID, I get that. I know other nonprofits that didn’t receive any funding at all, and their programs are just as valuable to the community.”

Heading into the 2020 campaign season, Smith said she anticipates this year’s contributions also will be down, this time due to COVID-19 related hardships. As such, that also played a role in this year’s conservative grant amounts, she said.

“We don't want to commit to grants that we may not be able to pay in full if we aren't able to receive full payment of pledges,” Smith said.

Despite the grant reductions, Smith pointed out that United Way has been assisting area nonprofits during the pandemic and has given out more than $90,000 in COVID-19 relief grants. United Way created the COVID-19 Emergency Fund at the beginning of the pandemic in an effort to quickly give resources to community-based organizations, and there have been 12 rapid response gifts to organizations that have received a total of $92,144 so far.

Among those were Samaritan Caregivers, which received a boost of $13,000, and Bona Vista, receiving an additional $4,500.

The COVID relief grants also assisted The Boys and Girls Club of Tipton County ($1,500), Advantage Housing ($15,000), Area 5 Adult Guardianship VASAI Program ($2,550), Gilead House ($16,750), Hoosiers Feeding the Hungry ($10,000), Kokomo Rescue Mission ($5,000), Living Alternatives Pregnancy Resource Center ($9,844), Turning Point Systems of Care ($15,000), Family Service Association of Howard County ($3,000), and Coordinated Assistance Ministries ($1,000).

Further, three of the 14 nonprofits also received funding through United Way’s 75in5 Kindergarten Readiness Grants. Bona Vista received an additional $41,000, Family Service Association received $52,000, and Kokomo Family YMCA received $7,000.

“Going forward, we are working hard to ensure we can adapt to this new normal and find innovative ways to continue raising money in the community for local needs and causes,” Smith said.

United Way’s campaign funds also supported two additional nonprofits this year. Bridges Outreach received $21,000, and Turning Point received $24,500.