Stressed Human Service Agencies Dealt Another Blow With United Way Funding Drop

Apr 21, 2017

The United Way of McLean County house in the McBarnes Building in downtown Bloomington (pictured) is giving tough news to several dozen human service agencies it funds.
Credit Staff / WGLT

The United Way of McLean County is dramatically reducing support for human service agencies.

The United Way fell more than a million dollars short of its fundraising goal and has only $1.1 million to give out this year.

David Taylor is the CEO. Taylor said the United Way will continue to fund 64 programs offered by 32 organizations.

"We are spreading it thinner, but we made commitments to those 64 programs and we intend to honor those," said Taylor.

Taylor said traditionally the grants were program specific, but given the dramatic difference in available money this year, the United Way is prepared to be flexible.

"If they have more than one program funded with us, will they ask to be able to take money from one program that is funded and direct it do another program because they think that's the most critical? And we're prepared to allow those conversations and that dialog to happen," said Taylor.

That extended dialog could last into early summer according to Taylor. He believes that is not likely to be a permanent change in the way awards happen.

Fundraising this year was only 44% of last year's level. Last year the United way said it raised more than $3.5 million for area human service organizations.

Taylor said some businesses had substantial growth in giving from last year. Individual giving was down about 7%. But, the big difference was that some businesses chose not to run traditional United Way coordinated campaigns. He said that is a reflection of changes in worker desire to place their own dollars.

He said the agency which, has its roots in the last century as the Community Chest, may wish to talk about transitioning to year round fundraising and targeting individuals as well as business campaigns to support Bloomington Normal human services. Taylor said the United Way will talk about changing the way it approaches its philanthropic efforts to match younger worker preferences.

Taylor said communities have an infrastructure in streets and sewers and water mains. Another kind of infrastructure, he said is the human infrastructure that addresses community needs.

That infrastructure was already under stress because of the state budget deadlock.

"We recognize that we can't change the amount of money that we have this year. But, we're confident and optimistic that this community can respond and we're confident over the next several years that this community will see this as a call to action and will see the United Way as an effective means of supporting the infrastructure here in the community," said Taylor.

The United Way is thanking those businesses and people who contributed