Rough start of 2017 for local organizations

United Way fell $70,000 short of its fundraising goal.

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (KSNW) — Throughout last year, we’ve been telling you how the state of the agriculture industry has been affecting farmers and farming-related businesses.

Now one local charity say decreasing farming incomes has also hit the community hard.

“We didn’t reach our goal this year,” said Susan Escareno with United Way of Finney County. “We were about $70,000 short.”

The organization had a 2016 fundraising goal of $570,000. That means less funding in 2017 for 26 area organizations.

“The first of November, we thought we may not make it,” said Escareno, “but we’re going to give it a hard push towards the end of the year and see if we can get there, and we just didn’t make it.”

Family Crisis Services is one of the agencies that will be impacted. It provides counseling and shelter for domestic violence and sexual assault survivors.

“A little concern because any dollars that we lose from our allotment of United Way affects our shelter,” said Janene Radke, the organization’s executive director, “so we have to look at things like utilities, food that go toward helping the people that are residing there.”

The agency normally receives $25,000 to help fund the shelter, but it lost more than 10 percent of that. Now, leaders are looking into more public donations and grant funding to make up the difference.

United Way says the struggling farming community is part of the reason for the drop in donations.

“We’re a big farming community,” said Escareno, “and our farmers had great crops, but they’re not making anything off their crops, so I think they’re holding off on spending.”

Decreasing incomes for Kansas farmers has been a trend for several years.

“Obviously rural Kansas is pulling back on what they can give to charity because of the lower incomes,” said John Jenkinson, KSN’s agriculture expert.

“We’ll regroup at our January board meeting and brainstorm some ideas of ways to do different ways of fundraising,” said Escareno.

Any donations United Way receives through the end of January will still go to the 26 agencies they fund for 2017, so they hope to turn things around in the coming weeks.

United Way said they cut contributions to all 26 agencies they give to, but they cut more funding from larger organizations that have more sources of revenue.