STRETCHING THE BUCKS: Local United Way awarded a $18K matching grant

COLUMBIA CITY — Donations are being doubled for the United Way of Whitley County. After being approved for a matching grant, the United Way is on a mission to not only raise funds for the Live United campaign, but meet a maximum matching dollar amount of $18,000 by the end of 2013. New donors giving in increments of $100, as well as new businesses giving in increments of $500 will be matched dollar for dollar in partnership with the Indiana Association of United Ways INVest 1213. “There is no better time to get involved with United Way,” said Cindy Baker, executive director for United Way of Whitley County. “Now the dollars go twice as far.”The matching grant is not only open to new donors, but to those who want to increase their giving by the $100 or $500 increment standards.The matching period extends through 2013, but right now, Baker and her team are pushing through to the finish line on the Live United campaign which is the organization’s annual fund drive. “Right now we are just a little over $40,000,” said Baker. “We are still waiting for our big corporate campaigns to come in, but I think we are going to be on target. If people are thinking of giving for the first time or increasing their donations for the campaign, we will get to double dip. Those donations will also be matched with this new grant.”The money raised through the matching grant will have a specific purpose. Based on the application submitted by Baker, a designated purpose was necessary to qualify for the money. Education became the front runner and the county’s United Way decided to make the dollars work to extend the life of the organizations it supports.“This money will be used as a scholarship for nonprofits to tap into so they can take advantage of education opportunities to better serve their clients,” Baker said.The scholarships will help Whitley County nonprofits send volunteers and staff to workshops and training programs that will better equip them to do the job they need to do.“There are so many opportunities to learn and grow, but we see that a lot of organizations don’t take advantage of them because of money. It’s hard to take $100 out of the budget when that money could put food on someone’s table or resources in front of a student,” said Baker. “By extending them the funds to attend such educational opportunities, we hope to give these nonprofits a chance to strengthen their missions and equip them with the tools they need to go about their work.”