The holiday season is a critical time for charities to raise money, but many are reporting that donations are down this year because of the slow economy. Lois Buntz is president and CEO of the United Way of East Central Iowa. She says overall contributions are down and the organization could end up falling short of its goal by hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“I think it’s going to be a real uphill struggle for us to get to the goal this year,” Buntz said. “We’re just appealing to the public…if you can do a little bit more and you’re employed, we would certainly appreciate it.” The United Way also provides funding to other organizations like Waypoint, which serves women and children affected by homelessness, poverty, domestic violence and sexual assault. Waypoint Executive Director Liz Hoskins says the dip in donations is troubling.
“We’re a little concerned about it, but we’re hoping that our donors will able to come through for us in the end because we really rely on that funding to provide our most critical services,” Hoskins said. Big Brothers/Big Sisters in the Cedar Rapids area had to make staff and program cuts this year because of budget concerns. Big Brothers/Big Sisters spokesperson Kathy Beardsworth says they not only need money, they need volunteers.
“One of our biggest needs is for male role models,” Beardsworth said. “We’ve got a lot of boys growing up in single-parent homes and moms are looking for that male role model.” Just about every charity has some concerns about finances this year, but they’re all hoping people will be generous during the final weeks of December.
By Mark Geary, KCRG-TV, Cedar Rapids