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 user 2009-08-14 at 4:12:50 pm Views: 83
  • #22740

    United Way cash flow / now collects empty toners and inks with clover corp
    As the United Way of Illinois Valley struggles to support its member agencies during a year in which donations haven’t come easy, the idea that every little bit counts is becoming much more important.In June, United Way director Andrea Walters informed the 16 local member agencies that their planned allocations for the year would be cut in half because donations dropped in the face of the economic recession.“Things are moving along consistently,” Walters said recently, although the organization hasn’t made as much fundraising progress as she had hoped.In past years the United Way had still met the promised allocations even if actual donations fell short of expectations, but this depleted the organization’s reserve funds. At the moment, they are still attempting to catch up with last year’s final payments before they can begin payments for the new year.“Currently, the cash flow is not sufficient to cover the monthly allocation amounts,” Walters said.Some larger donations are anticipated near the end of the year when businesses’ fiscal years come to a close.

    Until that point though, Walters, along with her volunteers and one-person staff are looking to develop new relationships with area businesses and establish new fundraising methods.
    Walters is aiming for 100 percent of local businesses to take part in the United Way’s mission in some way. She believes there’s about 70 percent participation from the business community right now with roughly 125 businesses involved.Whether taking part through a traditional method, such as payroll deductions from employees, or hosting smaller events or projects, Walters said every bit of help from businesses counts.“Even if you come and do a day of volunteer work, that makes a difference,” Walters said.Walters said she understands that some businesses are already committed to other charities and she doesn’t want to step on toes, but she hopes to find ways to get any sort of support for the United Way.In order to do that she’s planning to make presentations on the United Way of Illinois Valley’s efforts for any business, big or small, that will have her.The United Way has found luck with in-kind gifts in the form of items for specific projects rather than money.Using her “Community Leadership Volunteers Club,” an informal e-mail-based networking group, Walters has solicited help on a number of small projects.

    The e-mail group has allowed her to acquire a variety of needed items, such as paint, paper and even a microwave for a family that suffered a tragedy, as well as fresh ideas, from a growing group of interested individuals.“It’s amazing what people will do for you, if you just ask,” Walters said.In the few months that she’s had the e-mail group up-and-running she’s seen it grow from five people to more than 100, and Walters said she would be happy to add anyone who is interested.“My main thing is networking,” Walters said.She’s also used the e-mail group to direct people to the charity-friendly Internet search engine GoodSearch and its associated web portal GoodShop.With GoodSearch, web users are able to designate a specific charity, such as the United Way of Illinois Valley, and every time they conduct a web search on the Yahoo-powered search engine the charity is given one cent.

    The money is generated because GoodSearch is able to sell a user’s search patterns to advertisers, something regularly done by other search engines.A similar data-mining method is used with GoodShop, which directs users to a number of major Internet-based stores, ranging from Amazon and eBay to iTunes and Sephora, and in return the charity is given a percentage of any sales made. GoodShop also offers users coupons for many of its member shops.While the United Way of Illinois Valley has made less than a dollar from GoodSearches so far, Walters said that it’s basically money for nothing and if a large enough group of people were to begin using it, a charity could be rewarded with thousands of dollars in a year.Along with motivating and growing her volunteer base through the e-mail group, Walters has been working on a variety of ideas that will help raise funds, even if in very little increments. A couple of these projects fall under her “cash for trash” designation.One example is the Clover Environmental Solutions ink cartridge recycling program, in which companies are able to recycle used ink and laser printer cartridges and the United Way receives a small donation for each.

    The program is part of the Ottawa-headquartered Clover Technology’s remanufacturing business. Each cartridge that comes into Clover’s Oglesby facility from a United Way-supporting business can generate up to $15 for the United Way, depending on the market value of the particular cartridge, according to Clover Environmental Solutions executive vice president Brian Regan.Individuals are also able to contribute to the program by dropping off old cartridges or cellular phones at the United Way office.Once recycled the cartridges, which have been kept from piling up in a landfill, are resold through major national retailers.Regan said a number of non-profits around the country, including the Special Olympics, Knights of Columbus and various school districts, benefit from the recycling/fundraising program.

    Since January 2008, the United Way of Illinois Valley has been able to receive nearly $900 through the recycling program.Walters is also slowly building an aluminum can recycling program, in which she’s inviting anyone with cans to drop them off at the United Way office in downtown La Salle and as the pile builds the cans will be recycled.She said this program could also help beautify the city, if people start collecting cans discarded on the streets.Local businesses are helping with small fundraising efforts, as well, such as United Way casual days, in which employees make a small donation to dress down at work.

    Walters said the fundraising projects not only help the United Way but can also raise morale at the participating business.“It really seems to have picked up our participation,” said Alice Smith of JCPenney, discussing their introduction of casual days each month.Walters has also seen companies with large numbers of employees make considerable donations on what would otherwise seem like a small fundraising effort.For example, Advantage Logistics was able to give the United Way a few thousand dollars recently raised from employee hot dog lunch events.Overall, Walters seems to be doing whatever she can to keep the organization operational and able to fulfill it’s mission.“We’re just trying to simplify this year,” Walters said.