Metro United Way needs more donors as cuts come to more than 100 organizations

Donations dip to Metro United Way, leading to funding cuts

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Metro United Way helps more than 100 non-profit organizations around WAVE Country. Last week, they announced they will have to cut some of that funding by up to 50 percent.

Theresa Reno-Weber is Metro United Way's president and CEO. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Theresa Reno-Weber is Metro United Way's president and CEO. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

“We know how difficult these decisions are,” Metro United Way President and CEO Theresa Reno-Weber said. “And we felt the pain of that in having to make these cuts to those partners knowing what it means in terms of the people we are trying to serve and the great work they are doing and the outcomes we're getting.”

Reno-Weber explained they are completely donor and grant funded and there is a shift happening in the way their 35,000 donors are giving to Metro United Way and organizations they support. She said donors and gifts from corporate groups are re-evaluating how they want to impact the community through their donation.

“Our business model is shifting and that’s what’s creating real challenges in our ability to continue to fund at the same level we have been funding our historic partners,” Reno-Weber said.

They have been encouraging people to give unrestricted to United Way, which would allow them to make the “smart and strategic investments that are getting the right outcomes for individuals in our community,” Reno-Weber said.

Last year, Metro United Way operated on a $27.2 million budget. Of that, $9 million was used as unrestricted funds to spread across more than 100 organizations Metro United Way helps fund.

Reno-Weber said they raised $26.3 million this year, but there was an increase in restricted grant funding and a shift in donations, so their unrestricted contributions are $3 million less than last year.

“The idea that $3 million dollars is lost in an unrestricted pool that goes directly to those non-profits is going to have real implications for individuals served in our community," Reno-Weber said. "And it’s going to mean we are going to see some bigger problems if we can’t find those dollars to be able to make those smart investments.”

The 100 organizations impacted range from services for the elderly to organizations that help the homeless, students or disadvantaged children.

The Salvation Army of Southern Indiana said they will lose $12,000. That money is about 50 percent of how much it costs them to run their emergency food pantry and their financial assistance programs.

Captain Catherine Fitzgerald is with the Salvation Army of Southern Indiana. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Captain Catherine Fitzgerald is with the Salvation Army of Southern Indiana. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

“We’re really hoping the community will step up and support the programs because we don’t have to make any cuts, or turn people away, or say the shelves are bare, or anything like that,” Captain Catherine Fitzgerald, with the Salvation Army of Southern Indiana, said.

The Metro United Way funding they receive helps them serve people in Floyd and Harrison Counties. Each month, they have over 500 people request food and over 900 people are given financial assistance in those two counties.

“We don’t want to have to turn people away,” Fitzgerald said.

She added they are hopeful the community will help them fill the gap in funding. Click or tap here to donate.

Other groups, like ElderServe, Inc., will be losing a little over $100,000, which is about 43 percent of their funding. ElderServe works to improve the lives of aging adults in Louisville. Patty Belden, Chief Development Officer, said that’s about 8 percent of their total operating budget. They are in the process of figuring out what they will do to try to fill the gap. She said they were surprised the cuts would be that much for them.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kentuckiana will see a 32 percent cut, losing $87,000. CEO Jeri Swinton said it impacts their waitlist for the mentoring network, which currently has 600 children waiting to be paired up with a volunteer.

Reno-Weber said Metro United Way is looking at how to attract new donors and add more sources of revenue to help with the gap in funding so they can continue to help the organizations with which they partner.

“We want to use this as a moment that to those who have been donating, we thank you," Reno-Weber said. "It’s because of you we are putting out $26.3 million to our community and that we are continuing to see these great outcomes.”

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