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United Way's funding shortfall will affect thousands of Cincinnatians

Posted at 11:40 PM, Dec 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-18 00:22:27-05

CINCINNATI — The underperformance of the United Way of Greater Cincinnati’s annual fundraiser, which in November fell $2 million short of the lowest projected estimate for 2018, will echo through the 140 organizations that depend on the nonprofit for some portion of their budget.

The largest of those recipients, such as Freestore Foodbank, will likely feel it as a ripple. Losing an $80,000 United Way contribution doesn’t sting badly for an organization that operates on a $65 million annual budget, which is good news for the thousands of families who depend on Freestore for warm meals over the holidays.

“When someone provides us with a dollar, we can stretch that and make that the equivalent of three meals for the families we’re serving,” CEO Kurt Reiber said Monday.

For their less robust counterparts, however, the wound will go deeper. Peggy Zink, president and CEO of Cincinnati Works, said her agency will move into 2019 with a 10 percent smaller budget than it had in 2018.

“United Way … pretty much funds our core program, which is about job readiness training and placement and longterm advancement,” Zink said.

She’ll be able to keep all of her organization’s employees under the new status quo, but they’ll be working on a smaller scale. The real issue, she added, isn’t the loss of one service from one organization. It’s the cumulative impact of all funding cuts across all 140 agencies.

“$10 million less coming into our community for human services is significant,” she said. “It’s not the agencies that are hurt. It’s the people we serve.”