Letters to the Editor

UW into Annual Review

United Way of Horry County campaign fell short of its $1.4 million goal, but all 36 United Way agencies will be funded. The nonprofits provide a variety of vital services, including several area food pantries.

All of the agencies, in one way or another, are stretched to capacity to serve their clients, many of whom have turned for the first time in their lives to places like Helping Hands or Churches Assisting People in Conway.

As of Monday, the total raised for 2010 was $1,270,696.71 with some money still coming in, according to Julie Kopnicky, marketing and communications coordinator for United Way of Horry County. The number was $9,163 better than a month ago, thanks to pledges still coming in as volunteers kept working after the campaign officially ended.

Considering the difficulties volunteers faced - a recessionary economy overall with fewer people working and many others struggling in part-time jobs that once were full-time - it's remarkable that the fundraisers achieved as much as they have - $147,081 under the 2009 campaign's $1,417,777.94.

First, after the 2010 goal was set, the Horry County Shelter Home was disbanded, which freed up money. The S.C. Department of Social Services told United Way it had decided to place the abused children served by the Shelter Home in foster homes or with immediate family, Kopnicky said. The home had been allocated $80,000 for 2010. Effectively, that change reduced the United Way goal to $1,320,000.

"In the end, we fell $49,208.33 short of that adjusted goal," Kopnicky said.

To make up the shortfall, the board of directors "voted to use money set aside in our 'Emergency Reserve Fund.'"

The fund was established years ago, to provide "supplementary funds to agencies and the corporation when income is impaired by economic circumstances or a local catastrophe such as a hurricane," Kopnicky said. Money is placed in the fund any time the campaign exceeds its goal, which has not happened in recent years. Give the United Way board credit for foresight in establishing the fund and using it to avoid trimming funding.

Next year | Meanwhile, the annual allocation review process is under way for next year, and 44 agencies, including several new ones, have submitted applications.

"This program is our strongest attribute to the United Way system," Kopnicky said. More than 50 volunteers on the Community Investment Committee, formerly the Allocations Committee, are reviewing the applications. After the extensive review process, the recommendations go to the United Way Executive Committee and then to the full board.

The review is detailed to the point of looking at an applying organization's incorporation documents and a four-year comparison of income and expenses. Once approved for funding, "each community partner is also required to submit a quarterly report to United Way," to make certain the services are needed and the agencies are "well-managed and efficiently run."

One volunteer, Cricket Alcorn, who has served nine years on the review committee, sees the process as "a commitment to the hardworking men and women of Horry County who give their fair share to make sure these charities are creditable and truly helping to better the community."