The Heart of Illinois United Way recently kicked off its annual campaign with a goal of raising $6.150 million for our community's social service programs. Prior to the campaign kick-off, Heart of Illinois United Way agency executives held a legislative breakfast with state and federal legislators. The topic of conversation: the ever-increasing state and federal cuts to health and human services. With the round of recent cuts, and future cuts looming on our agencies' financial horizon, United Way dollars are needed now more than ever.
With a struggling economy, the community needs the help of nonprofit organizations the most. And, yet, our agencies are struggling to find the means to face their largest financial challenge in years.
The nonprofit sector plays a major role in our national and local economies by providing services that aren't, and often can't be, delivered within the structure of the open market or by the government. United Way agencies are the link between the government and individuals in need.
Outside of increasing budget cuts, other financial issues facing agencies include flat cost of living increases such as child care subsidies that haven't increased for more than five years and increases in fixed costs such as health insurance, workman's compensation, liability insurance rates, and utilities. With more clients coming to agencies with multiple service needs, agencies are redefining how to "do more with less."
Competition for government funding is also increasing; and agencies are also coping with the need to reach donors through new and often costly technologies, the need to provide more accountability, and a continual shift in client demographics.
Some of the solutions proposed by local agency executives include longer government service contracts and assistance with regulating insurance and utility costs. The changes and challenges our local social service industry will face in the upcoming year will ultimately strengthen their organizations and lead to a stronger community. It's up to all of us to do everything we can to support their efforts and the important work they do every day. With our campaign kick-off behind us, it's time to focus on raising money to meet the needs of our community. People helping people: that's what matters. IBI