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United Way Wednesday: Nonprofit works to finish strong during tough fundraising year
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United Way Wednesday: Nonprofit works to finish strong during tough fundraising year

Way to a Better Wiregrass

The Way to a Better Wiregrass graphic. 

COVID-19 wrecked the previous year to an extent that has not been experienced in recent memory, leaving many people in far worse situations than they were before it all began. Businesses and nonprofits have especially taken a hard hit with the COVID-related financial problems.

Wiregrass United Way (WUW) is wrapping up a tough year of fundraising this month far behind the goal it hoped to reach.

“I can tell you we won't be setting any records for outstanding achievements this year,” said CEO Walter Hill. “It is so unfortunate since the need is greater and our partner agencies really need more money than last year, not less.”

Hill explained that almost 70% of their annual fundraising comes from businesses who donate using payroll deductions; however, when COVID hit and businesses were on lockdown for weeks, some months, WUW was not able to initiate its usual door-to-door conversations where their mission is highlighted to possible donors. This, along with most companies suffering cutbacks, left an undesirable gap in their goal.

“We haven’t seen a year like this since 2009 after the economy took such a hard hit in the previous year,” Hill said. “Without being able to personally go and explain to donors what we do and who their donations help, it’s been a struggle.”

The end of January will mark the close of the WUW's fundraising year, and as of Friday, Jan. 8, it is only at 78% of its target amount.

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In a final effort to reach the goal, WUW will be hosting “United Way Wednesday” Jan. 13, when members will be reaching out to anyone who is a normal donor to try and finalize donations for the year, while hoping to bring in new donors as well. Hill says he expects some big donations to come from the event.

Two generous donors have agreed to match pledges and donations totaling $50,000. The Mike Schmitz Family pledged $25,000 and an anonymous donor pledged the other $25,000.

“Matching pledges always seem to encourage more donations because people see that whatever they give will be doubled,” Hill said.

Along with the matching pledges, the Chick-fil-A on Ross Clark Circle, owned by Jeff and Tracey Koch, will be donating 10% of all sales that are ordered on the Chick-fil-A Mobile One App for curbside or delivery to WUW. That donation is also eligible to be matched if they have not reached $50,000 by the end of the day.

WUW partners will also be pitching in to help spread the word by posting videos on social media to promote the work that they do so people can see exactly where the funding goes each year. Expect posts from places like Wiregrass Angel House, Boys & Girls Club, Wiregrass Rehabilitation Center, Wiregrass 211, and others.

“I like donors to know exactly where their donations are going,” Hill explained. “Don’t donate because you know me or someone involved; donate because of what we do.”

WUW not only accepts donations, but also pledges. You can pledge to donate any amount with no specific date set for the donation. If you are interested in donating or making a pledge you can contact Hill by email at or you can call for more information at 334-792-9661.

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