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Donation shortfall leads to funding cut by United Way Elgin Middlesex

Kelly Ziegner, CEO of United Way of Elgin and Middlesex and Kyla Woodcock, the organization's 2018 campaign chair and first Chief ChangeMaker stand by the Local Love in Action bus at the 3M Harvest Lunch in London, Ont. on Sept. 20, 2018.
Kelly Ziegner, CEO of United Way of Elgin and Middlesex and Kyla Woodcock, the organization's 2018 campaign chair and first Chief ChangeMaker stand by the Local Love in Action bus at the 3M Harvest Lunch in London, Ont. on Sept. 20, 2018. Liny Lamberink / 980 CFPL

An expected donation shortfall has led United Way Elgin Middlesex to cut funding to the local agencies it supports.

Chief executive Kelly Ziegner told 980 CFPL they expect to be about $300,000 short of what they were hoping to raise by the end of the current campaign on Sunday.

The non-profit didn’t set a fundraising goal, but had hoped to raise about $9.1 million and are currently tracking just short of that at about $8.8 million.

READ MORE: United Way Elgin-Middlesex kicks off local 2018 campaign with annual 3M Harvest Lunch

The drop in donations is the continuation of a trend that started in 2016.

“Our campaign at that time was $9.1 million and that was to maintain all of our agency investments and maybe have a little bit of growth,” said Ziegner. “At that time we brought in about $8.8 so we had a significant shortfall that year.”

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Ziegner says the organization dealt with the shortfall by dipping into their reserves in 2016 and again in 2017 when they again fell short but can’t afford to do it again. They’ve cut operating expenses to help cut the gap but it won’t be enough to make up the difference.

READ MORE: United Way Elgin and Middlesex CEO frustrated by changes to Ontario welfare programs

While a $300,000 gap may not seem like a lot, Ziegner says it means a lot to organizations that operate on shoe string budgets.

United Way Elgin Middlesex funds over 90 programs at 54 local agencies that serve London, Middlesex and Elgin. The donation shortfall will result in a funding cut of about 10 per cent.

While speaking on the Craig Needles Show on Wednesday, Ziegner said the loss of high profile companies in the London region in recent years has taken a toll.

READ MORE: United Way lifts stair-climb fundraising goal to $250,000

“What United Way is known for historically are big workplace campaigns. When we think of Ford, Electro-Motive Diesel, Kellogg, all these huge employers with a big corporate culture of giving have left our community and about $1 million of our campaign left with it,” she said.

Ziegner adds while there are lots of newer employers that have set up shop in London, it takes time to build a giving culture.

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United Way has even seen some donors become clients as high paying jobs were replaced with more precarious work.

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