GREAT FALLS — United Way of Cascade County announced Thursday that it raised $1.3 million during its annual fundraising campaign, which is a record for the agency.
A news release from UWCC says the $1,325,148 includes $157,895 raised specifically to address COVID-19 Response & Recovery, and $1,167,253 that United Way will invest in community impact work and nonprofit programs that advance education, financial stability and health.
United Way dedicated money from its COVID-19 Response & Recovery fund to support food pantries, address the needs of homeless people, provide rides for essential workers and people who use paratransit when the buses stopped, and support the crisis line and 211 to address increased need for mental health and other services.
United Way also raised money for an effort called Essential Funds For Essential Needs that provided $500 checks to 300 families who were impacted by COVID-19. The families had hours cut, medical bills, increased child care costs and even funeral expenses.
The community need will continue into the coming year, as many of the 33 nonprofit programs that United Way invests continue to see more demand and increased costs to deliver services. For example, Meals on Wheels is delivering 2,000 more meals to seniors every month and extra education support through the Boys & Girls Club is needed to help students catch up,
With the money raised in last year’s campaign, United Way helped 23,278 people through its grants alone.
“The Great Falls community is very generous in investing in our work,” United Way President Gary Owen said. “Donors want and deserve to know that their gifts are making a difference. We have demonstrated dramatic impact to individuals through the great programs we help fund as well as at the community level with our Graduation Matters, Healthy Lives Vibrant Futures and Prosperity Matters initiatives.”
“United Way steps up to tackle our community’s biggest challenges, and this year that included marshaling resources to respond to COVID-19,” United Way Board Chair Brad Livingston said. “When our community sees a need, they generously step up to meet the need.”
During its annual campaign, United Way volunteers reach out to area employers both to invite individuals to give and donate money on behalf of their companies.
Knowing the need in the community, campaign volunteers set the ambitious goal of raising $1.3 million, 14 percent higher than last year’s total.
“The community generosity and dedication means we all understand what it means to change lives,” Campaign Chair Becky Nelson said. “Our community, and particularly the Pacesetter businesses and their employees, helped bridge the gap between those who need help and those who can help. Thanks to you, our neighbors will lead better, healthier lives.”
This year, more than 3,000 people gave to United Way, most donating less than $100 by taking a few dollars out of each paycheck to help their neighbors.
Of the total, 58 percent was donated by 29 Pacesetters, employers who have committed their support to building the community through United Way of Cascade County.
In addition to working with employers, United Way also reached out to every individual in Cascade County. This year, 496 people responding to our campaign letter gave a total of $139,777, which is 11 percent of the campaign total.
Any nonprofit can apply for funds this spring. A team of United Way volunteers decides funding by looking both at the community’s needs and the programs’ effectiveness. This year, 33 local programs receive United Way funding.