By Kim Walter
After falling short of the 2011 fundraising goal, the United Way of the Northern Shenandoah Valley bounced back in 2012, not only meeting the year's goal, but exceeding it.
The day before the organization was supposed to give it's final report on the 2012 donations, campaign chair Mary Nordman was nervous.
"I know how difficult it is for the average person in the workplace, and we make most of our money from payroll deductions," she said Thursday, a week after learning the campaign results. "With the economy the way it is, I wasn't sure if the same number of people would be able to give."
Nordman said the other side of the coin is that "when the economy and people's financial situation is bad, the need is greater."
When she and other volunteers with United Way sat down to go through the numbers, though, Nordman was "pleasantly surprised" when they found that over 100 percent of the goal was reached.
The 2012 campaign brought in a total of $1,127,341 -- 101 percent of the year's goal, and 5.5 percent more than the amount raised in 2011.
"I was thrilled, so thrilled that even more people will be able to be served in the community," Nordman said. After learning the news, there was only one person she could think of to tell.
"I kept trying to call my husband to let him know," she said. "Of course, when I finally told him he said he always knew it would happen."
Nordman credits her husband Bill as well as a number of volunteers with the United Way, with supporting her and making the fundraising goal a reality.
When community members decide to donate to the United Way, they have two choices of where the funds go. On the donor application form, individuals can either designate a specific nonprofit agency or the funds can go toward grants which are awarded to a portion of the more than 200 nonprofit agencies in the area.
Nordman said that in the past several years she's noticed people are preferring to designate an agency. Many of those receiving funds aren't even in the surrounding area, she added.
"We have a lot of people living in the area who aren't from here, so folks like to donate to agencies in their home town ... as far away as California," she said. "It makes sense. When money is tight, people want to know exactly where their money is going."
Local agencies have to apply for grants, Nordman said. Once they've submitted an application, a panel composed of community members reviews the form and visits the agency. There is no limit on the amount that an agency can request, but grant funds must go toward programs to better the services offered.
During the organization's annual meeting in February, Nordman will become the local United Way's president of the board. David Sovine, superintendent of Frederick County Public Schools, will then become the campaign chair and will be tasked with setting a new goal.
Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or firstname.lastname@example.org