From left, United Way Campaign Director Tom Blatz, Board Chairman Bill Brillant and Campaign Chairman Steve Bailey demonstrate this year’s United Way campaign theme, “People Power for Local Change.” Courtesy United Way

BATH — Although it missed its 2019 fundraising campaign goal by about $123,000, United Way of Mid Coast Maine still aims to reach its $1.8 million target by the end of the year.

Ups and downs in such campaigns are to be expected, Barbara Reinertsen, the organization’s executive director, said Nov. 7, the day after her chapter formally ended the campaign and announced it had received $1.68 million to date.

“We set the goal at $1.8 million because we knew that the community needs were great, and we wanted to increase the campaign and push as hard as we could to do that,” she said. “It turns out that that was overly optimistic. However, we’re not done; we’re still going to work hard to increase those dollars.”

United Way, which kicked off its 2019 campaign in September, raised $1.77 million last year, exceeding its $1.75 million aim.

Workplace-based campaigns are a large part of the annual effort. Campaign chairman Steve Bailey said at the Nov. 6 campaign finale that a large number of workplace retirements was one factor behind the shortfall, pointing out that giving by individuals outside the workplace is becoming increasingly vital.

“People Power for Local Change” was this year’s theme, reflecting United Way’s help addressing needs such as food for the hungry, shelter for the homeless, Big Brothers Big Sisters to help youth who face adversity and one-on-one matches for elders who are isolated. The organization serves 25,000 people from Brunswick to Waldoboro; donations pay for initiatives at 37 partner agencies.

“This is a campaign from the whole community,” Reinertsen said. “Whether or not people were asked, we really hope people will notice this and realize that they can help and send in a contribution.”

People can send a donation to United Way of Mid Coast Maine, 34 Wing Farm Parkway, Bath ME 04530. They can also call 443-9752 or visit uwmcm.org.

Most of Maine’s United Way organizations run active campaigns during the fall, but activity continues through the spring, according to Joleen Bedard, president of United Ways of Maine. “Campaign results may not be final until June at some United Ways,” she said.

Data from 2016 and 2017 “paints a complicated picture of philanthropy and giving statewide,” according to Jeannette Andre, president and CEO of the Maine Philanthropy Center. Individual Mainers – who comprise the majority of giving – rank ninth in the country in volunteer hours, outpacing national growth by 1 percent, she said. Still, despite that growth and a 22 percent rise in individual giving, Maine still ranks second-to-last in the country at $3,643 per person, behind Rhode Island, in individual average charitable giving, Andre noted.

“Institutional giving has trended upward lately, moving from $175 to $181 million from 2016 to 2017, but it is difficult to know if this trend will increase,” she said, adding that factors such as  passage of the 2018 Tax Cuts & Jobs Act “will influence giving participation in the state even when the economy is strong. In fact, a national study has found that in 2018, charitable giving when adjusted for inflation was down 1.7%.”

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