By John Green

The Hutchinson News

Reno County United Way officials are now projecting an even larger shortfall in pledges from the organization's campaign goal than anticipated several weeks ago.

"We're now running about a $60,000 deficit," said Executive Director Tona Turner.

To date, the campaign has received $1.29 million in pledges, or 86 percent of its $1.5 million goal.

Fifty-nine local businesses still have pledge packets out. Based on historic donations from those businesses, however, if pledges from the remaining groups don't significantly increase, that will bring in only about another $150,000.

That would put this year's campaign only about $6,000 over last year's effort.

About a month ago, officials were projecting the goal shortfall would be about $36,000. A number of pledge packets returned since then, however, didn't meet expectations.

One company, for example, Turner said, was off more than $14,000 from last year -- despite "a strong campaign by employees" -- because the local operation's out-of-state corporate parent was no longer matching employee pledges.

Of the remaining packets, "some are small and some are midsized," Turner said. "It's a good mix still."

"They tend to be loyal groups, with only about 1 percent turnover any given year," she said. "Some do wait to the end of the year to respond, and it's fairly normal to do to some chasing. It's a hectic time."

Others that are parts of large national companies -- and national campaigns -- have to wait on their parent company to compile information, Turner said.

"We have to be a little patient," she said.

Last year the organization met its $1.434 million goal on Jan. 31. The 2015 goal is a 4.6 percent increase over 2014.

Lisa Gleason, United Way's director of community impact and engagement, thanked the nearly 200 volunteers who contributed time during the campaign, giving presentations and picking up packets, and she particularly thanked Angie Ratzlaff, who shared her story with more than 200 groups of employees how a United Way-sponsored organization, Circles of Hope, changed her life.

"A gift to United Way impacts a wide cross sector of community needs," Gleason stated in a news release. "Partner agencies serve the community with blood services from the American Red Cross to after-school programs with Boys and Girls Club, from mutual self-help housing at Interfaith Housing Services to end-of-life care with Hospice and Homecare of Reno County and many more."

"It is not too late to give," Gleason stated. "United Way of Reno County is asking the community to rally around the 31 partner agencies by giving a gift to help meet the $1.5 million goal."

The campaign will remain open until Jan. 31.

(c)2014 The Hutchinson News