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United Way launches new fall fundraising strategy in hopes of exceeding last year's revenue

'Changing workforce' may be to blame for steadily decreasing revenue, United Way of East Central Iowa CEO says

“When it comes to Collins (Aerospace), we’re always going to have their support and work closely with them,” United Way of Central Iowa’s Amy Geiger says. (The Gazette)
“When it comes to Collins (Aerospace), we’re always going to have their support and work closely with them,” United Way of Central Iowa’s Amy Geiger says. (The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — United Way of East Central Iowa is changing its fall fundraising strategy by using a campaign cabinet of 20 volunteers to be the face of its campaign rather than having only one to three campaign chairpersons.

The United Way of East Central Iowa generated $8,605,824 in campaign revenue from 2017 to 2018 it used to help 23 organizations in Linn, Jones, Cedar, Benton and Iowa counties, according to its fiscal year 2018 report.

Some of those organizations are the Area Substance Abuse Council, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cedar Rapids and East Central Iowa, the Community Health Free Clinic and the Arc of East Central Iowa.

The fiscal year 2019 report will not be available until January.

The not-for-profit had both campaign chairs and a campaign cabinet of 14 volunteers in 2018, said Tim Stiles, United Way of East Central CEO, and had planned to do the same for the 2019 campaign. However, when one of the three chairs — Brad Buck, then-superintendent of the Cedar Rapids Community School District — took the superintendent’s position in Waukee, the board decided to reconsider the structure.

United Way pivoted strategy and included the other two campaign chairs into a 20 member campaign cabinet instead.

Dennis Jordan, United Way campaign cabinet member and senior business development manager at Mortenson Construction, said the campaign cabinet will enable United Way to extend its outreach and connect with donors in more meaningful ways.

United Way’s fundraising goal in 2018, Jordan said, was to do better than the year before. That didn’t happen, he said.

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According to United Way of East Central Iowa’s annual report, it raised $10,319,317 in campaign and grants in fiscal year 2016. Campaigns and grants raised $9,506,696 in fiscal year 2017, and in fiscal year 2018 its campaign revenue was $8,605,824.

United Way distributes funds to other organizations through program grants and directed donations. According to United Way’s fiscal year 2018 report, 96 percent of the campaign revenue raised went to other organizations.

One of the ways United Way raises money is through workplace campaigns. However Stiles said that the “changing workforce” is driving the agency to change its traditional model of running a campaign. For example, some companies no longer allow payroll deductions that can automatically be directed to United Way.

This year, United Way will ask companies to increase their donations by 10 percent. The campaign will run mid-August through November.

Amy Geiger, vice president of resource development at United Way of East Central Iowa, said the organization is in the process of setting a campaign goal by meeting with company representatives and talking about company goals.

“We’re still collecting information,” she said.

One of the companies United Way is working with is Collins Aerospace. Geiger noted that, as Rockwell Collins, its employees had a long history of supporting United Way.

“They are still our No. 1 donor ...,” Geiger said. “When it comes to Collins (Aerospace), we’re always going to have their support and work closely with them.”

Collins Aerospace was formed after United Technologies Corp., based in Connecticut, purchased Rockwell Collins, Cedar Rapids’ largest employer.

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Geiger said that while United Way probably will recruit campaign chairs again in 2020, it will likely maintain a campaign cabinet.

Other cabinet members include representatives from the city of Cedar Rapids, Skogman Realty, the Cedar Rapids Community School District, CRST International, Inc., U.S. Bank, Cedar Rapids Bank and Trust, Collins Aerospace, the Eastern Iowa Health Center, Shive-Hattery and Nikeya Diversity Consulting.

• Comments: (319) 368-8664; grace.king@thegazette.com

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