United Way of Cascade County launched its annual fundraising campaign Thursday, setting a goal of raising $1.3 million this year, which would set a new record and grow the campaign by 5.7 percent above last year’s $1.23 million total.
With the money raised in last year’s campaign, United Way supports 30 local nonprofit programs and invests in community impact work to improve education and increase on-time graduation, help more families become financially stable and independent and improve health in Cascade County.
United Way President Gary Owen said that through grants to nonprofits, United Way will help 31,133 people in the coming year, but everyone in Cascade County is touched by United Way’s community impact work.
“Because of generous community support, United Way is able to bring together community resources to tackle some of our community’s biggest challenges. That includes issues like homelessness, academic achievement, child abuse and financial instability,” Owen said. 
United Way Campaign Chair Shannon Hoiland said businesses invest in United Way because they are able to help so many people and nonprofits through one organization and because of work United Way does behind the scenes to bring people together to address the root causes of problems. 
“I started donating to the United Way in high school,” said Hoiland, who is the Market President at Bravera Bank. “As a longtime volunteer and donor, I have a true passion for United Way’s work and have seen firsthand how these funds helps so many, but we can’t do it alone. Our success will be because of the hand-raisers and doers who help to build a stronger, caring community.”
Many nonprofits seeking grants this year saw increased need for food, rental assistance and other services, while at the same time had greater expenses.
Last year, United Way was $442,000 shy of covering the worthy requests from area nonprofits.
United Way board chair Curtis Finnicum is one of 40 volunteers who reviewed grant applications from local nonprofits and determined funding. 
“During the grant process, I’ve had the opportunity to hear both about the needs in our community and the great work that so many are doing in our community,” Finnicum said. “United Way really connects all of the dots and makes sure people who need help are helped.”
“Giving is not just about making a donation. It is about making a difference. We hope the community will again rise to meet the need."
Area employers have stepped up to be United Way pacesetters. Their strong support accounted for 70 percent of the campaign total last year. 
The 35 pacesetters are: Alluvion Health, Anderson ZurMuehlen, Benefis Health System, Bison Motor Company, BNSF Foundation, Bravera Bank, Calumet Montana Refining, Cascade County, Centene Corporation, City Motor Company, City of Great Falls, Cogswell Insurance, D.A. Davidson, Douglas Wilson & Co., Energy West, FedEx, First Interstate Bank, General Mills, Great Falls College - MSU, Great Falls Public Schools, Horizon Credit Union, Hoven Equipment, HUB International, Montana Credit Union, NorthWestern Energy, Pacific Steel & Recycling, Sam’s Club, Scheels, Stockman Bank, Target, University of Providence, UPS, US Bank, the Smelter and 10th Avenue Walmarts and Wells Fargo. 
United Way uses funds raised in its annual campaign to address Cascade County’s human service needs. Out of every dollar donated, 99 cents stays in Cascade County. 
Any local nonprofit can apply for funds. United Way volunteers determine funding by looking at the community’s needs and the programs’ effectiveness. 
In addition to the workplace campaign, people may give by sending contributions directly to United Way at PO Box 1343, Great Falls, MT 59403, or click here to donate online.