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 user 2009-08-14 at 4:16:23 pm Views: 63
  • #22367

    United Way cash flow / now collects empty toners and inks with clover corp
    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.