The Waupaca Area United Way will soon send its annual fundraising letter to area residents and businesses.
“The money stays local,” said Paul Lehman, president of the organization’s board.
On March 12, 1958, the Waupaca Area United Way was organized and incorporated as the Waupaca Community Chest Inc.
“All the board members volunteer their services,” Lehman said. “We try to get as much money out to organizations as possible.”
Like other charitable organizations, the Waupaca Area United Way has faced two major challenges these past several years – a decrease in donations and a way to attract new people to its board of directors.
Donations are down from what they were five years ago.
In 2007, the organization dispersed $87,325 to local agencies.
Last year, the Waupaca Area United Way received requests that totaled $63,150 and gave out $44,500.
“We met 70 percent of the demand,” said Joel Camann, the group’s treasurer.
Lehman said the funds the organization disperses go into the general funds of the local agencies.
“There’s lots of demands on people’s disposable income. Most everybody has suffered in this recession,” Lehman said. “We support a number of organizations. Every year, we get new requests. Everything has been reduced.”
This year, a total of 20 organizations received funds from the Waupaca Area United Way.
The Waupaca Area Red Cross received the largest amount – $9,000.
Five years ago, that organization received $14,000. In 2009, the amount dropped to $11,000 before dropping again this year.
Following the approximately four months of fundraising, the Allocations Committee of the Waupaca Area United Way meets to review all applications and make recommendations on how to allocate the amount of money that has been raised.
Lehman said a meeting is held in March to decide on the allocations.
“We typically disperse most of the funds,” he said. “The checks go out typically around May.”
With a decrease in contributions the last four years, Lehman said that if donations continue to fall, they will question if the Waupaca Area United Way is still relevant.
Yet, the requests from local agencies have continued, and when the organization is unable to fund their requests as previous levels, the agencies in turn must increase their own fundraising.
The Waupaca Area United Way supports such agencies as Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, the Bread Basket, Catholic Charities, the Miracle Tree, Students Against Drunk Driving, the Salvation Army, The Waupaca Senior Center, the Waupaca Area Food Pantry, Waupaca Preschool and the Waupaca Thrift Store.
Lehman said when someone gives a donation to the Waupaca Area United Way, that person is helping countless organizations and people.
“We want people to be aware of what we’re trying to do,” he said. “We’re looking for community support and for volunteers to serve on the board.’
The board is looking for at least two more board members.
Those who are interested in serving on the board may contact Lehman at 715-513-0329 or Camann at 715-258-5511.