A year ago, the United Fund of Surry County struggled to reach its annual fundraising goal, its efforts hobbled by the coronavirus epidemic.
So what did the board of directors and new Executive Director Melissa Hiatt do this year? They increased the target for this year and, despite the continuing pandemic, are closing in on reaching the $430,000 goal, with several weeks remaining in the fundraising season.
As of Friday, the agency was at $413,000, or 96.2%, of its $430,000 goal for this year’s campaign. While the United Fund accepts donations all through the year, the official campaign season ends March 31.
With seven workplace campaigns yet to finish, along with a final social media campaign soon to go out, it would appear the organization has an excellent chance to meet, or exceed, its goal.
Until COVID-19 happened, hitting the annual goal was a fairly regular occurrence, but Hiatt said the pandemic took a toll on its fundraising efforts.
“Not being able to be face-to-face with our workplace campaigns was the biggest challenge,” she said. Those campaigns often involve meeting with employees and officials in the workplace, and allowing employees to donate through a payroll deduction spread over the year.
“In the past, we would go into these businesses, see their employees face-to-face, talk to them about what the nonprofits we serve do. We could take an individual who has received services who can tell them how the United Fund changed their lives.”
All of the money raised by the United Fund stays local, spread among area human service agencies, including those addressing homelessness, hunger, services to senior citizens, addiction issues, crisis intervention and others. All totaled, the United Fund helps pay the bills for 26 such agencies in Surry County — among them are The Shepherd’s House, area rescue squads, the Salvation Army, Meals on Wheels, Surry Medical Ministries, the Children’s Center of Northwest North Carolina, and others.
Last year, with the pandemic in full force, the United Fund saw its fundraising drop to $366,000. That was still a significant sum, but it meant a little belt-tightening for area agencies dependent upon that money.
“We created a video this year,” Hiatt said. That video, along with a written marketing kit, has allowed the United Fund to again convey the stories of those served to potential donors, along with a fuller explanation of how the United Fund operates, in lieu of the in-person meetings with area workers.
“Even with that you miss that personal touch of being able to hear that person tell their story,” she said. “We are having to work a little harder to raise the funds that we need.”
For more information on United Fund of Surry, their member agencies, or to learn how to donate, visit http://www.unitedfundofsurry.org/