United Way Co-Chair Talks Growing Divide in Donor Demographics

By Jeremy Coumbes on October 19, 2022 at 11:10am

One of the co-chairs of this year’s Prairieland United Way campaign is asking the public to please give locally this year as a steady decline in giving has been seen in some areas.

Stephen Symons, who co-chairs this year’s campaign with his wife Cammie, says with everything from energy to food costs continuing to rise, it’s more important than ever to give locally for those in need, and the Prairieland United Way is as local as it gets.

Every single penny of what you donate goes directly back to people in the four-county area that Prairieland United Way serves, Morgan, Scott, Cass, and northern Green Counties. None of it goes to corporate, none of it goes to administration, and every single penny goes directly to the people that we see on the streets, in the stores, and in church.

And to take it a step further, local people give money, and the allocation of that money, those decisions are made by people right here in these communities. I mean there is nobody outside of the local area that is involved in this campaign.”

Symons says the campaign is seeing less giving on both ends of the financial spectrum, with those who are able to give larger amounts, never really considering the United Way.

He says of the 56,000 people who live in the Prairieland United Way’s four-county area, less than 200 people donated $300.00 or more, which breaks down to $25.00 per month.

Symons says he thinks that mostly has to do with people not being aware of what the Prairieland United Way does. “Now we know there are plenty of other worthy causes, and we’re not here to say that you shouldn’t consider giving to them but, less than one percent of those 56,000 gives twenty-five dollars a month?

That’s a little scary, and I don’t think that it’s that people don’t care. I think it’s just that people are not aware of what Prairieland United Way does. It helps people right here in our communities. People who need food, people who need shelter, people who need companionship, people who need after-school care, and things of that nature.”

Symons says the number one source of funds for the annual campaign comes from employee campaigns, however, those have been in decline over the last number of years as well.

That’s not necessarily a surprise when you consider the number of large businesses in the area that have shrunk over the years. But the one thing we have seen unfortunately is that more reliance is now placed on the people who are trying to decide if they can give a dollar or two per paycheck or five dollars per paycheck when there is a significant gap of the people who are able to write a check lets say for five hundred, or a thousand or five thousand.

That segment of our population is one that we are really trying to reach, really trying to identify and say please consider the United Way. Again, the communities need your help and if you have the capability of helping, please consider us.”

Symons also reminds area residents that all of the agencies funded by the Prairieland United Way are vetted and located in the four-county area so donations to the campaign support multiple charities with one pledge.

To find out more about the Prairieland United Way and the annual campaign, or to donate, log on to prairielandunitedway.org, or call the office at 217-245-4557.

You can also find out more by searching Prairieland United Way on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.