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For the first time in over a decade, United Way of Tompkins County leaders are projecting that its community campaign will not meet its annual fundraising goal.

"This is a reality that none of us anticipated," said Campaign Chair and Tompkins County Administrator Joe Mareane.   "Our volunteers and staff have worked hard and thoughtfully from the beginning to this final stage, and it is difficult to say what we could have done differently."

UWTC invests community dollars in over 137 local programs that reach residents in every part of the county, and at every stage of life.  We have taken great satisfaction in the fact that through recessions, reductions in local workforces, and reduced and lost federal and state funding, UWTC has been a consistent and strong resource for partner agencies and the people they serve.

Chair of the UWTC Board and CFCU Community Credit Union CEO Lisa Whitaker added, "We are grateful for the thousands of community members and businesses who have given to this year's effort.  Their caring and generosity toward United Way and other community organizations is impressive and is a large part of what makes this a special community."

The campaign got off to a strong start, and officials wondered if setting the goal at $2,037,800 was overly conservative.

"In late October and through most of November giving slowed to unprecedented levels.  We realized this would be a gritty and hard challenge at a time of governmental funding reductions and uncertainty, and when unmet and emerging needs were bubbling up across the community," said UWTC CEO James Brown.

The organization's leaders acknowledge the significant responsibility and trust community members have given United Way for nearly a century.  Although a shortfall is projected, volunteers and staff are not willing to concede that outcome.

Mareane added, "We know this has been a long campaign.  We also know that people's lives are lifted and strengthened through the agencies and programs our dollars support."

Gifts will be accepted through June 30.  Several local donors have donated $20,000 to match Shipherd Flexible Fund gifts $1 for $1 through the end of this final push.  Thanks to contributions from Corporate Cornerstone Partners funding UWTC's administrative costs, 100% of all gifts will support programs and services.