Cincinnati United Way Anticipates Shortfall

United Way of Greater Cincinnati (UWGC) could fall short of last year’s campaign totals by as much as 15 to 20 percent and is warning local nonprofits to brace for funding cuts.

The organization did not announce a fundraising goal for 2018 but CEO Michael Johnson told WCPO Cincinnati that $52 million is projected for this year’s campaign, which concludes Nov. 14.

United Way Greater Cincinnati raised $56.5 million in 2017 and more than $60 million in each of the two prior years. That decline was the largest in at least 20 years, according to United Way.

The projections have led UWGC to warn the more than 140 nonprofits it works with to expect cuts in funding.

“A lot of this has caused United Way to be more conservative in terms of what our target is internally and what we’re planning to invest in the community,” Teresa Hoelle, senior vice president and chief marketing officer, told WCPO.

Johnson was president and CEO of Boys and Girls Club of Dane County in Madison, Wisc., before being hired in July to succeed Rob Reifsnyder who retired in May after 18 years leading the affiliate.

Workplace giving has been declining for years, hitting United Ways hard and sometimes leading affiliates to focus their mission on fewer areas.

Fewer employees at the largest companies in the area has contributed to a decline in contributions, Johnson told WCPO. Some of the region’s companies also have been acquired by outside ownership that doesn’t have the same interest in local charitable efforts, he said.

Some studies have projected charitable giving will decline in 2018 as a result of tax reform measures passed by Congress last year. The American Enterprise Institute estimated that giving could drop as much as $17 billion.

Ross Meyer, vice president for community impact, told WCPO that organizations that rely on United Way funding could be forced to find alternative revenue sources or eliminate services.

Greater Twin Cities United Way saw a similar shortfall last year due to a spike in donor-designated giving. As a result, the Minneapolis, Minn. affiliate reduced staff by about 5 percent and cut in funding to grantees. Earlier this month, United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey slashed almost 40 percent of its positions in a restructuring to focus efforts on three mission areas.