Economy, layoffs have significant effect on donations

By Tammy Keith Originally Published January 10, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated January 9, 2013 at 9:03 a.m.
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PHOTO BY: Rusty Hubbard

Maret Cahill, resource-development director for the United Way of Central Arkansas, stands by a thermometer displayed at the Faulkner County Courthouse. Cahill said about 60 percent of the United Way’s $750,000 goal has been collected, and thermometers will be changed to reflect the new totals. Fundraising has been slow, she said. Kathy Hull, executive director, said all donations will be accepted, no matter how small.

Kathy Hull, executive director of the United Way of Central Arkansas, didn’t sugarcoat it.

The fundraising campaign isn’t going as well as it should.

“We’re in vital need,” she said.

Maret Cahill, resource-development director for the United Way of Central Arkansas, agreed.

“Almost every business, the donations have been down, and even the schools, which they tend to be one of our biggest givers,” Cahill said.

About $450,000 of the $750,000 goal has been reached.

She said the economy is affecting giving.

“I understand when somebody calls and says, ‘Well, we’ve had layoffs,’” Cahill said. “One of our people that gave to us traditionally was Virco [Manufacturing Corp]. They said, ‘We’ve had so many layoffs, we don’t feel comfortable asking our employees to give.’ They gave $15,000 last year,” Cahill said.

She’s beating the bushes to find the money needed to fund 23 programs at 18 agencies.

The programs include ones that Cahill said most people know about, such as Bethlehem House, the homeless shelter, and the Boys and Girls Club of Faulkner County, but smaller ones, too.

“One of mine I love … is City of Hope, and it’s small, small, small,” Cahill said.

City of Hope Outreach is based in Oakwood Village mobile home park. One of its programs is to teach young men how to be better fathers, she said, and there is after-school tutoring for the children who live in the community.

She also mentioned Conway Cradle Care, which provides mentoring programs and child care for Faulkner County teenage mothers enrolled in school.

Cahill said Executive Director Diana Byrd “does such a great job teaching these girls not that, OK, you’ve made a mistake and you’re going to have to live with this, but let’s move forward, and she teaches how to be a better parent and that they have potential, and they can get educated still.”

“I love the Faulkner County Day School,” Cahill said, “although a lot of people know about that.”

Cahill and Hull said it’s important for people to know that the money they donate is monitored.

“We’re not just giving funding to these agencies; we hold them accountable,” Hull said. “We fund tried-and-true programs we can track.”

For example, Hull said money for the Boys and Girls Club of Faulkner County goes to an after-school tutoring program.

“Because they collect data, because they have reporting due quarterly, we look at, are they on track? Are they helping as many people as they say? We’re able to see whether programs are on track,” Hull said. “If they’re not, we can help them re-evaluate and help them look at ways to make it better.”

Cahill and Hull are new to the agency, but Hull said last year’s fundraising goal of $650,000 wasn’t met.

Cahill said she will be “heavily focused” in January and February on seeking businesses, large or small, to contribute.

“We’re going to have to get creative and get some new businesses in,” Cahill said.

“We can come in and make it really easy,” Hull said.

They’d like to recruit individuals to be Emerging Leaders, people who give $500 to $999, and Pillars, who donate $1,000 a year. Cahill and Hull are Pillars.

A fundraiser, Jeans & Bling, is scheduled for March, and a Pillars Party is being planned, Cahill said.

“We’re going to be fundraising year-round,” Cahill said. “There used to be an end to the campaign, but I don’t think there can be in this economy.”

For more information or to contribute, call (501) 327-5087, ext. 1.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or

Niche Publications Senior Writer Tammy Keith can be reached at 501-327-0370 or

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