Local Salvation Army is $34,000 short of yearly fundraising goal

Sunday, January 5, 2014 | 6:00 a.m. CST

COLUMBIA — The local branch of the Salvation Army has until the end of January to raise $34,000 to meet its yearly fundraising goal of $390,000 or face program and staff cuts.

The fundraising effort is called the tree of lights campaign and includes a mail appeal, credit card gifts and kettle donations. Bell ringers seek donations during the holiday season on street corners and in front of businesses with their trademark red kettles.

Regional coordinator Maj. Richard Trimmell said the organization was $100,000 short of its goal in December but received about $70,000 in end-of-year donations.

"Our kettles come off the street Christmas Eve, but that doesn't mean the funding ends," Trimmell said.

He said decreased donations are attributed to two factors, the economy and the calender year. Red kettle season starts the day after Thanksgiving, which fell a week later this year so a week of donation collection was lost.

If the fundraising goals are not met, the organization will have to adjust with cuts in personnel and programs, Trimmell said. The local organization has never failed to meet its annual goal. He said he has seen need increase by around 25 percent for Salvation Army programs in the past year.

According to a 2012 Blackbaud charitable giving report, charitable donations in the U.S. increased by 1.7 percent in 2012. However, giving for human services and public benefit organizations, such as the the Salvation Army, have decreased. The report is based on data from 3,144 nonprofit organizations and more than $7.9 billion in fundraising revenue.

Missouri ranks 21st in nationwide giving, according to a Chronicle of Philanthropy report.

The Blackbaud report shows the last three months of the year accounting for more than a third of overall yearly giving. As the Salvation Army enters January, the organization faces a budget deficit it is trying to close.

The Salvation Army was allotted $25,200 from the city of Columbia for Harbor House this year. The organizations had requested a grant of $50,000, but Trimmell said the Salvation Army was very pleased to receive increased funding this year. He said it is difficult to determine grant funding as it fluctuates yearly at state, national and local levels.

Harbor House is a year-round family shelter for 63 residents. The shelter provides a bed, three meals, laundry, and access to phones and computers in the community resource center. Residents are also assigned a case manager who helps each family set personal goals to become self-sufficient.

Dele Williams, Harbor House assistant director, said the house is open 24 hours a day and is always full.

"We help people by housing them and by taking them in when its cold outside as a warming center," Williams said. "People are allowed to do their laundry, take baths and the public can eat lunch."

When the temperature falls below 40 degrees by 5 p.m., nonresidents are allowed to sleep in the shelter on cots. Trimmell said Harbor House fills every nook and cranny to provide a warm place for the homeless. But the house is in need of cots and winter attire such as coats and mittens. The Harbor House is at capacity and hopes to add new cots to house more people.

Williams said the shelter provides services during all seasons, as a warming center in the winter and cooling center in the summer. She said she enjoys being able to help people and to see the gratitude on their faces.

Trimmell said the Salvation Army plans to march toward its fundraising goals despite the year's challenges.

"We are really appreciative of what folks have already done, and we hope we can make our goal," Trimmell said. "We still have a few weeks."

Supervising editor is Zachary Matson.

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