WAUKESHA - The
holiday season is a time for giving, but many area nonprofit
organizations are seeing a decrease in donations at a time when
they are counting on them the most.
While none of
the organizations’ leaders know for sure why contributions are
down, they speculate it could be due to uncertainty about health
care costs in 2014 and continued uncertainty with employment.
This week, the
United Way in Waukesha County reported it may not reach its 2013
fundraising goal, which is $4.75 million. As of Thursday, the
campaign had only reached $2,812,431 or 59 percent of the goal.
Executive Director Jayne Thoma on Friday said they are seeing
decreases in contributions from businesses, employees and
She thinks the
corporate contributions could have decreased due to companies
not performing as well as last year. For employees there are
also a lot of unknowns about what 2014 will hold, Thoma said,
citing individuals possibly having to pay more for health care
and paychecks becoming smaller.
campaign runs until the end of January for the United Way in
Waukesha County and some businesses don’t report their
contributions until around the new year.
possible explanation for the decrease in giving, Thoma said,
could be so many nonprofits competing for the same donations.
“There are a
lot of nonprofit organizations asking for resources,” she said.
encourages people to make a donation even if it’s a small one,
because when combined with other, the organization can still
make a big difference. She also wants people to consider making
a pledge now and then taking all of 2014 to donate.
underestimate the impact of any sized gift,” Thoma said.
Army of Waukesha has also had less money in their red kettles
that have become synonymous with Christmas.
Lemirand, co-director of the nonprofit, said she believes this
could be related to people carrying less cash in the credit card
world, as well as the unfavorable weather which may have
prevented people from getting out.
For about the
past week-and-a-half, the Salvation Army of Waukesha has been
about $50,000 off its fundraising goal. Lemirand believes
concern about the new health care law is causing people to worry
about how they will afford insurance on top of their daily
“I think there
is still that uneasy (feeling),” she said.
are wanting to do something tangible’
monetary donations are lagging, Lemirand said there has been a
huge request from those wanting to buy gifts for needy families.
“People are wanting to do something tangible,” she said.
The Red Kettle
Campaign ends Dec. 24, but contributions can still be mailed to
the Salvation Army or made online until the end of January.
At the Food
Pantry of Waukesha County, Executive Director Karen Tredwell has
also seen people respond well to donating items or time.
“We have a
tendency in our state to donate items and time because that is
something you can tell will be utilized in a matter that it is
being offered,” she said.
her nonprofit gave out 1,682 holiday grocery allocations this
year, which was the most she has seen in the 16 years she has
been with the food pantry. Each year they tend to be around
1,600, she said.
have remained strong and the nonprofit hasn’t had to decrease
the amount of food it disperses, but financial donations are
about 22 percent off projections, Tredwell said. The
organization could be even further off if a fundraising event
hadn’t been held in November.
continue to register for assistance with the Food Pantry of
Waukesha County, including 173 new households, or 406 people,
during the months of October and November. New registrations are
a little higher than last year for the same period, Tredwell
said, but are about flat when comparing year to year.
about food stamp cuts, Badger Care changes
for the federal food stamp program, as well as upcoming changes
to Badger Care, are also causing people to worry about if they
will be able to get enough food and afford to buy more, Tredwell
donations remain on track at the Christmas Clearing Council of
Waukesha County, Executive Director Ruth Page Jones said.
families also remains close to previous years, although
donations of toys are down. In previous years a room that stores
the toy shop would be two-thirds full by now, Jones said, but
it’s only about one-third full. The sponsorship program has
ended, but toys can still be dropped off at collection bins
want to give at Christmas time to help families this time of
year seem to be able to find that extra giving spirit in this
community,” Jones said.
And while the
economy may be picking up steam, the need will never go away,
Lemirand said, giving the examples of a single mother whose
working hours are cut or a person too ill to work.
are really our faith friends. They are our army,” Lemirand said.
“We have a great amount of gratitude.”
How to help
Way in Waukesha County:
Salvation Army of Waukesha:
Christmas Clearing Council of Waukesha County:
Pantry of Waukesha County: