In terms of dollars raised and awarded, and programs and agencies supported, numbers were down in 2018 for Interlakes Area United Way (IAUW). President Lori Gustaf shared the information at the organization's recent annual meeting, held December 3.
"We awarded $96,576 to 38 non-profits in 2018," Gustaf said. "That amount is staggering, and we are grateful to be able to make a difference. But it is down 19% from last year."
Gustaf credits a dip in campaign pledges for the drop as well as fewer agencies requesting support. Despite the overall decline, the IAUW board declared 2018 a success.
"Individually, many of our programs and events improved this year. We sold a record number of raffle tickets, raised more money with our campaign kickoff event and found new opportunities to increase awareness and engage with the community. Overall, we are very pleased."
Traditionally a major source of funding, IAUW's annual WIN BIG Raffle has become increasingly popular over the years, and 2018 was no exception.
With help from partners Lake County International, Manitou America and number of other local corporate sponsors, this year's raffle raised $48,600—the most it's generated to date. Gustaf believes inclusion in the DSU Ag Bowl, which is also gaining notoriety, has helped improve ticket sales.
"We're lucky to have advocates in Jeff and Tom Bloom, who are also driving forces behind the Ag Bowl," she said. "Their support continues to strengthen our organization."
Gustaf reported several other program gains from 2018:
- Dine Out to Donate saw more businesses participate and garnered more funds. Seventeen businesses in Lake, Miner and Moody counties raised $2,934, up from 2017.
- DownTown in MadTown earned IAUW $1,570. Board members and volunteers worked the beer stands and monitored the bouncy house at all six events.
- A Community Day of Caring in Flandreau—the first of its kind—was met with success. More than 20 volunteers filled and decorated large outdoor planters along the city's main street.
Other highlights included public forums in Howard and Flandreau, a partnership with the High Plains Alternative School in Chester to serve at The Gathering, and participation in community events such as Tour of Tables and farm and home shows.
IAUW also hosted an inaugural 211 University in 2018, led by staff from the Sioux Empire Helpline Center. The free class provided insight on the 211 Helpline, available in Lake County since July of 2016.
Several programs and agencies supported by IAUW also reported growing numbers:
- Delta Dental Mobile Program provided $43,371 in dental care to 64 children and young adults July 16-20, versus $40,679 care for 52 youth in 2017.
- Dolly Parton Imagination Library provided 5,880 free books to babies and young children in the three counties, up nearly ten percent from last year.
- The Boys and Girls Club of Moody County set a record in single-day attendance in 2018, serving 116 youth. For the year, the club had an average daily attendance of 77 youth.
Partnerships prove rewarding
As evidenced by the WIN BIG Raffle, IAUW has benefited greatly from corporate partnerships. Madison businesses Great Western Bank and East River Federal Credit Union were honored for their contributions in 2018.
"Under the leadership of Floyd Rummel, Great Western Bank backed the production of a new promotional video for our organization," Gustaf said. "In fact, it was Floyd's idea, and what a great one. The video helps us reach a new audience, improving our exposure and ultimately, community support."
East River Federal Credit Union was the sole sponsor of the 15x15 contest, held as part of IAUW's 2019 campaign drive. Individuals who pledged at least $15 a month in 2019 and turned in their pledge form by November 15, 2018 were eligible to win a $500 VISA gift card.
Sixty-nine people qualified for the 15x15 incentive. ERFCU Marketing Specialist Penni Groce and Senior Member Service Representative Mandie Miller presented the award to winner Taylor Bloom.
"We strongly believe in 'People helping People' and building success stories. It's great to be able to give back to generous individuals who help Interlakes Area United Way do the amazing work they do," Groce said.
With the year ending, IAUW is focused on how to better position their organization in 2019.
"We will continue our focus on workplace giving and corporate philanthropy, seeking out new opportunities for partnerships and incentives," said Gustaf.
They also plan to revisit some of the year's biggest events and build on their success. A community day of caring in Miner County and 211 presentations to local employers are just a few ideas for next year, along with the annual raffle and campaign drive.
In the meantime, the current campaign drive will wrap up December 31 with allocations planned for January or February. Pledges are still being accepted.
"As more people utilize the services we support, it becomes more important than ever for us to do our due diligence in raising funds so that we can continue to be effective," Gustaf said.