United Way campaign fails to meet fundraising goals

by John Fulton | 1/23/18 2:00am

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by Naomi Lam / The Dartmouth Staff

Dartmouth’s annual fundraising campaign for Granite United Way fell short of meeting its goal of raising $300,000 by Dec. 31, even after the original deadline of Dec. 15 was extended. As of two weeks ago, around $285,000 had been collected, according to Mimi Simpson, executive director of the President’s Office. The College’s committee is still receiving donations in hopes of reaching its goal eventually.

“Money for the campaign for this year still comes in until sometime in March, so there are things that still trickle in and it’s going up a bit,” executive vice president Rick Mills said. “We’re close.”

Granite United Way is the New Hampshire branch of the global charity organization United Way; it serves most of New Hampshire and parts of Vermont. Over 750 local programs are funded in part by Granite United Way.

Each year, Granite United Way receives a large sum of money from the College’s fundraising effort. Last year’s campaign set a goal of $275,500 and raised $300,224. The 2015 campaign aimed to raise $295,000 and raised $295,509.

The College has orchestrated a fundraising drive for Granite United Way each year for over four decades, Simpson said. On Dartmouth’s committee, a representative from every academic and administrative department helps organize the effort.

The committee launches “a viral campaign that reaches out and solicits contributions” from College employees, Mills said. Faculty and staff are able to donate through payroll deductions in addition to one-time gifts.

“You can sign up for a contribution and say, ‘How much do I want out of my check each month?’” he said. “It works well for employees.”

Mills said that there are several reasons why Dartmouth has had such a long history with Granite United Way. Several decades ago, Granite United Way was the only organization that provided a broad platform for employees to donate to many different organizations, he said.

“Pre-internet, it wasn’t easy for organizations to fundraise for their own activities, so United Way became the collecting facility that let both employers steer money to a lot of different institutions and let institutions apply to one place to get money,” Mills said.

In addition, Granite United Way currently supports many Upper Valley charities that are important to locals and students, he added.

For example, WISE offers support for individuals impacted by sexual and gender-based violence on campus and is partly funded by Granite United Way. Granite United Way funds WISE’s 24-hour crisis line, emergency shelter program and prevention and education program, according to WISE executive director Peggy O’Neil. While Granite United Way provides only $27,000 to $28,000 of WISE’s $1 million annual operating budget, it is still necessary money, O’Neil said.

“It’s funding that we count on because of the flexibility of the funds we get,” she said, adding that unlike some grants, United Way funds can be applied “where [they’re] most needed.”

According to O’Neil, donors can feel confident that their funds will be properly and meaningfully allocated, due to United Way’s rigorous grant application and review process.

While this process requires a lot of work from organizations like WISE, “it’s a great check and balance for donors, knowing there’s just a really thorough process to how these dollars are being stewarded for the good of the community,” she said.