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United Way of Cascade County kicks off annual fundraising campaign

Posted at 7:22 PM, Sep 01, 2022

United Way of Cascade County launched its annual fundraising campaign Thursday, setting a goal of raising $1.3 million this year, which would set a new record, and grow the campaign by 5.7 percent above last year’s $1.23 million total.

UWCC President, Gary Owen stated, "it's very important to United Way, and it's also important to our community because all of the services, all of the programs we support and conduct in our community rely on funding and without it, we won't be able to do the work we do."

With the money raised in last year’s campaign, United Way supports 30 local nonprofit programs and invests in community impact work to improve education and increase on-time graduation, help more families become financially stable and independent and improve health in Cascade County.

United Way President Gary Owen said that through grants to nonprofits, United Way will help 31,133 people in the coming year, but everyone in Cascade County is touched by United Way’s community impact work.

Many nonprofits seeking grants this year saw increased need for food, rental assistance and other services, while at the same time had greater expenses.

Mayor Bob Kelly attended the campaign fundraiser. He said, "I think United Way looks at a broad range of people who need help. They have some focus on health, education, and housing. Those are things that a lot of people need assistance with over time. Every year that United Way has been in existence, more and more dollars have been contributed, more and more volunteers have offered their time and services, and more and more people have been affected in a positive way by the gifts that United Way has been able to give."

Last year, United Way was $442,000 shy of covering the worthy requests from area nonprofits.

Owen said, "I feel like we're finally coming out of covid. The last two years have been a challenge for us. We've not been able to get in front of as many people during the campaign, and so we're really hopeful this year to be out talking to people and help them understand the work we do."

Area employers have stepped up to be United Way pacesetters. Their strong support accounted for 70 percent of the campaign total last year.

Owen said, "the pacesetters are businesses that truly partner with us, not just in terms of running an employee-giving campaign, but working with us throughout the year to get employees involved throughout the year to get their employees involved as volunteers to serve on committees that help us advance our initiatives and work with our service partners. So, these pacesetters in addition to raising over 60 percent of our total campaign are really partners that help us to advance our work.

UWCC Chair-Elect and volunteer, Leanne Frost says the pacesetters will play a major role in achieving this year's fundraising goal.

"the pacesetter organizations have made a commitment to have a campaign within their organization or within their business so that really helps a lot," Frost said. "We really need those employees to make those payroll deduction pledges so that comes in throughout the year."

She expanded upon the other ways they plan to achieve their fundraising goal.

Frost said, "There's going to be a lot of fundraising activities for the general public as well for that community support."

The 35 pacesetters are: Alluvion Health, Anderson ZurMuehlen, Benefis Health System, Bison Motor Company, BNSF Foundation, Bravera Bank, Calumet Montana Refining, Cascade County, Centene Corporation, City Motor Company, City of Great Falls, Cogswell Insurance, D.A. Davidson, Douglas Wilson & Co., Energy West, FedEx, First Interstate Bank, General Mills, Great Falls College - MSU, Great Falls Public Schools, Horizon Credit Union, Hoven Equipment, HUB International, Montana Credit Union, NorthWestern Energy, Pacific Steel & Recycling, Sam’s Club, Scheels, Stockman Bank, Target, University of Providence, UPS, US Bank, the Smelter and 10th Avenue Walmarts and Wells Fargo.

United Way uses funds raised in its annual campaign to address Cascade County’s human service needs. Out of every dollar donated, 99 cents stays in Cascade County.

Any local nonprofit can apply for funds. United Way volunteers determine funding by looking at the community’s needs and the programs’ effectiveness.

In addition to the workplace campaign, people may give by sending contributions directly to United Way at PO Box 1343, Great Falls, MT 59403, or donating online via their website.