Centre County United Way’s 2020 campaign raised $1,573,200, the organization announced on Tuesday night.
The total eclipses the campaign’s goal by more than $13,000, an achievement that came amidst the challenges of raising money during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, the work of CCUW and its 28 partner agencies to support those in need became as critical as ever.
“The past year was challenging for everyone, but for some more than others,” CCUW executive director Wendy Vinhage said in a video announcing the total. “So many people had changes in their employment status due to the pandemic – which impacted their ability to pay bills, buy food and meet their basic needs.”
Two in-person events that would typically bring in up to $50,000 for the campaign were canceled. With many businesses closed or with staff working remotely, employee campaigns that normally provide a substantial portion of funds became a challenge as well.
Instead, CCUW staff and volunteers got creative with online giving platforms and virtual events, while also using traditional direct-mail appeals.
“As businesses closed and masks and social distancing were the order of the day, our community did what they always do: stepped up to help one another,” Vinhage said. “Our partner agencies worked with people who were struggling to avoid homelessness and needed food for their families. Our volunteers helped us raise money to support the vital programs that one in four Centre County residents rely on heavily. “
Penn State’s campaign was once again a significant contributor to the fundraising. Though the university could not hold events like Trash to Treasure, it still surpassed its own goal and raised $624,630 for the CCUW campaign — about 40% of the total.
“I am incredibly proud of the Penn State community,” said Marie Hardin, dean of the Bellisario College of Communications and chair of the Penn State campaign. “This has been a true demonstration of the ‘We are Penn State’ spirit.”
In the spring, a board committee, volunteers and staff will determine allocations to CCUW’s partner agencies that provide programs focused on health, education and financial stability to Centre County residents.
“I could not be happier with this year’s campaign,” said CCUW Board Chair and Ferguson Township Manager David Pribulka. “The residents of Centre County have always stepped up in times of uncertainty and need to help one another. We share this success with our donors and volunteers.”