Over the last three years, Heart of Illinois United Way partner agencies have lost more than $15 million in state and federal funding. As the largest nongovernmental funder of local health and human care programs, it is critical that we continue to raise the maximum amount of dollars to support vital programs and services that improve education, income and health for the people of central Illinois.
In February, the Heart of Illinois United Way celebrated the 2015 Campaign, which raised more than $11.6 million, representing an approximate two-percent increase from 2014. Annually, more than 300 local companies and organizations participate in the campaign. Last year, the Heart of Illinois United Way continued to expand its base of support with 12 new corporate gifts and 18 new employee campaigns; in addition, 26 organizations increased their contributions to the Heart of Illinois United Way by 10 percent or more. The 2015 Caterpillar Employee United Way Appeal, along with the Caterpillar Foundation’s dollar-for-dollar match of employee and retiree pledges, raised an amazing $6.8 million—a 1.3-percent increase from 2014.
Of the largest 100 United Ways across the country, the Heart of Illinois United Way is the fastest growing over the last 10 years. Since 2004, our annual campaign has increased 82 percent compared to other United Ways across the country, which realized an average two-percent decrease over the same period of time. This growth is a result of the hard work and effort put forth by volunteers, as well as the unwavering support of so many donors in the community who know that investing in the United Way mission provides the best return on charitable contributions.
From arts and humanities to health and human care programs, nonprofit organizations provide a vital network of resources to the community and support economic development by improving quality of life for the workforce. After all, a healthy, thriving community is more than just the absence of illness; it offers its people the opportunity to obtain a quality education, achieve financial stability and access quality healthcare.
The availability and quality of programs provided by nonprofit agencies can vacillate considerably during times of public policy change, government budget cuts, or shifts in private or corporate donations. With the current state budget crisis, agencies in central Illinois have cut programs primarily impacting children, adults seeking education and victims of violence.
As we look at the health and well-being of central Illinois, the generosity of Heart of Illinois United Way donors and volunteers provides a sustainable, reliable and steady source of income for our partner agencies. Heart of Illinois United Way programs and initiatives—supported by the annual campaign—are critical to positively impacting the lives of more than 100,000 people each year throughout Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Marshall, Stark and Putnam counties. iBi