UNITED WAY OF THE GREATER WINONA AREA TO CLOSE
The United Way of the Greater Winona Area will close as of Dec. 31, 2016, with United Way staff and board of directors working through the end of the year to responsibly pay partner agencies and complete all necessary financial and logistical work.
The closing, which the board approved unanimously, was announced during the time when the United Way would typically be starting its annual fundraising campaign. The timing is designed to be the least disruptive to the partner agencies that use the funding for key one-time and ongoing programs that provide crucial services to the region. All partner agencies will be fully funded from the 2015-16 campaign and allocations process, which provided $120,000 in funding to 19 nonprofits. The closing has been communicated to representatives of all of the United Way’s partner agencies.
The Winona United Way’s board of directors voted unanimously this spring to explore the closure, after spending several months doing intensive community outreach to determine the organization’s future. That work included meeting with key corporate, organizational and individual donors, leaders of partner agencies, other community stakeholders, and past volunteers and board members to gauge future financial and personal commitments to the United Way’s work. Ultimately, the board concluded that the decision to close was the most responsible way forward, following years of increased challenges and declining campaigns.
“The Winona United Way is deeply and profoundly thankful for everyone who has supported us over the years, from donors at every level to the volunteers who put in countless hours of service,” said United Way board chair Randy Skarlupka. “This decision came after months of sustained effort to seek alternatives, and while it was heart-wrenching to make, the board agreed it was necessary.”
The decision was made in consultation with United Way leadership at both the state and federal levels. United Way Worldwide is evaluating options to serve the Winona area in the future. The Winona United Way is not alone in this decision; other small United Ways, both in Minnesota and in other states, have done the same in recent years. All confronted two similar, insurmountable challenges: Declining campaigns due to significant changes in community-specific charitable giving, and too few staff to support new operating practices required by United Way Worldwide.
The Winona United Way will post specific giving information and links on its website to all partner agencies, and be available through the end of the year to direct donors to them.
“Every single Winona United Way partner agency serves the community by meeting critical needs that aren’t addressed elsewhere, and sincerely deserve your continued support,” Skarlupka said.