ESCANABA - Thanks to the generosity of the community and some careful budgeting the United Way of Delta County was able to give back to the community 10 percent, or $14,500, more in 2013 than in 2011.
Money raised during the annual campaign season is distributed to member organizations via grants. In 2013, $150,000 in funds were distributed to 14 of the 17 United Way of Delta County member agencies. Grants ranged from $2,000 to more than $30,000.
"Our real focus has been getting as much money back into the community as we can," said United Way of Delta County Executive Director Julie Mallard.
In 2011, the United Way awarded $135,500 in grant money to its member agencies. That number spiked to $149,500 in 2012.
"Our big jump was from 2011 to 2012, but we upped it just a little bit this year," noted Mallard.
Also up are the campaign contributions received in 2012 - a first since Mallard has been with the United Way.
"This is the first year we've seen any increase in campaign totals since I've been here ... it's really been a steady decline," said Mallard adding economic conditions were largely to blame for the lack of campaign contributions.
The majority of United Way funding comes from workplace campaigns where employers give their workers the option to donate a portion of their paychecks to the United Way each pay period. Other funding comes from individual donations and fundraisers like the Soup'r Chili Challenge, which is scheduled for September.
"There are people who very generously send in private donations, ... but the vast majority of our donations come in through the workplace campaign," said Mallard.
Roughly $215,300 was raised during the 2012 campaign season and applied to the 2013 grants - a near $7,100 increase from 2011.
"One of the things that's misleading, if you look at, OK $150,00 is what was given out, we raised $215,000 - because we have something like 18 percent overhead. If you do those numbers it doesn't come out to 18 percent, it comes out to around 30 percent," said Mallard. "We follow a formula from the IRS that we get actually out of our tax records. It's looking at management and general expenses; it's looking at fundraising expenses divided by total revenue."
Mallard believes the United Way's ability to give more in grants is more that just an increase in donations.
"This year there was a slight uptick (in donations), but it's really been careful budgeting that has really allowed us to do this," she said.
To keep money available for the member agency grants, the United Way has made major cuts in the last few years, including the loss of a part-time administrative assistant.
"Everybody is experiencing it, and we had trimmed our budget as much as we could until it gets to the part where there's not much left to trim except for people. So we had to let our part-time person go," said Mallard.
Despite the cuts, Mallard is encouraged by the increase in campaign contributions, and is already working with the newest United Way member agency, Delta-Schoolcraft Great Start, to bring an early childhood literacy program to the area.
According to Mallard, the United Way's support of multiple community agencies means individuals can help with a variety of programs without writing multiple checks or researching each group individually.
"I think our human nature is we see someone in need we want to reach out and help, and we don't always in our day-to-day life see the homeless teens or the people that are between jobs, unemployed, and trying to feed their families," said Mallard.
For more information about the United Way of Delta County visit www.uwdelta.org or call 786-3736.