By Kayla Haggett 
BELLEVILLE – The local United Way didn’t reach its 2016 fundraising target of $2 115 000, according to executive director Judi Gilbert.
The organization was only able to raise $1 962 000 – a shortfall of $153 000.
Gilbert said there are several reasons for the shortfall.
She said that every year they hold workplace campaigns, and this year a lot of the campaigns were down from usual.
Gilbert said that this year was difficult for many fundraising organizations and that they “certainly fell into that category.”
She said there wasn’t one specific cause for the shortage, but that competition with other causes in the area and sites like GoFundMe  contributed.
Economic difficulties are also a factor, according to Gilbert.
“Everybody’s having to tighten their belt,” she said. “We all know with the cost of Hydro and the cost of food that our disposable income has become less.”
The United Way funds upwards of 75 programs in around 40 to 42 organizations locally. Gilbert said that there’s going to be an impact on funding for programs, but that they’re not sure what that looks like yet.
“We just have to let the process run its course. The allocation volunteers are continuing to meet and we have to stay true to that process.”
She said that this process will continue into the end of February, and that moving forward the organization will be looking at how they fundraise. According to her the things they’re doing currently are working, but that there’s things they could add to their fundraising portfolio. These are questions that will need to be looked at from an organizational standpoint, said Gilbert.
Last year the United Way surpassed their goal of $2.1 million by $1000, according to Gilbert, and this year is the first time they haven’t reached their goal in the past six years she’s been with the organization.
With all the competition, Gilbert said she believes people should support the United Way because they understand the community and allocate the funds locally.
“I think that United Ways across the country they have their finger on the pulse,” she said. “They know where the needs are in the community and they know what those priorities are.”