Stillwater News Press

January 4, 2014

United Way nears fundraising goal

By Mark Rountree
Stillwater NewsPress

STILLWATER, Okla. — It is often said the United Way touches everyone in a community in one way or another. Either a person has benefited directly from the agency’s funds or has known someone who has.

Sheri Carter, executive director of the Stillwater Area United Way, said statistics indicate that 1 in 3 people in Payne County are served by at least one of the 25 agencies supported by the United Way.

People in need are served at all stages and circumstances of life. Whether that is caring for abused children, housing homeless families, providing legal aid, delivering a hot meal to a hungry person or ensuring that a child has a gift for Christmas, the Stillwater Area United Way and its 25 service agencies and organizations provide the funding and means to do it.

The 60th annual Stillwater Area United Way fundraising campaign is an effort to collect donations for those agencies. The campaign is coming to an end, and is close to its goal of $875,000.

Carter said the agency has raised $867,500, some $7,500 short of the goal.

A final push is on to reach it.

“I feel confident we will reach our goal next week,” Carter said.

Carter said 30 percent of the budgets of one-third of the agencies come from the United Way.

Ninety-nine percent of the funds raised during the campaign stay in the local area. Carter said at 12 percent, the Stillwater Area United Way has one of the lowest administrative overhead costs in the United States for any charitable organization.

Each of the 25 agencies funded by the Stillwater Area United Way formally requested funding last spring. The fundraising campaign kicked off Sept. 20 at the annual Day of Caring in Stillwater.

Carter said fundraising efforts by Oklahoma State University account for 30 percent of the yearly goal. Donations by employees at Stillwater Medical Center also account for a high percentage, as well as banks, schools and industries.

But the majority of funds raised by the United Way come from individual donations, Carter said.

“It’s those small gifts that add up,” she said.

Carter said there is no official campaign deadline, but a target date originally was set for Thanksgiving. When fundraising goals were not met by then, the target was moved back to Christmas.

Since the donations were so close to the original goal, the agency elected to extend the deadline indefinitely.

“We felt the funds were there,” Carter said. “We think it’s within reach and we can do this so that everyone can get what they were promised.”

Carter said one agency is not any more important than another.

“They are all important. They are all in need of funding desperately,” Carter said.

Carter said no matter what happens with the rest of the fundraising campaign, some agencies will begin receiving funds at the end of January.

“It is so meaningful to live in a community like Stillwater,” Carter said. “People know an important safety net is here.”