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United Way fundraising not immune to tough economic times

Local organization are 16 per cent behind in fundraising compared to this time last year
Ryan Erb - United Way Perth-Huron
Ryan Erb is executive director at United Way Perth-Huron.

United Way Perth-Huron are lagging behind in their fundraising goal in a tough economy. 

CEO Ryan Erb told StratfordToday the organization is 16 per cent behind in fundraising, compared to this time last year.

"The challenge for us is to keep momentum going and keep people interested in giving. We know people are struggling. It is always this way when there is an economic downturn, people have less money to give but at the same time, the need is also greater."

The overall campaign goal is $200,000 more, due to increased need. The holiday season is one of the busiest of the year for the organization in terms of fundraising but it slows down in January, then picks up again in February with the Coldest Night of the Year event. 

The financial goal is bigger this campaign because the needs are greater, he said. 

Erb said the United Way is the largest funder of social services next to the provincial government. 

"We are filling in all kinds of gaps in programs and services that wouldn't otherwise be funded. Organizations that we are partnering with to provide those services in the community rely on us each and every year."

Locally, some 40 programs receive assistance, impacting communities in two counties through initiatives like Connection Centres in Stratford, Exeter and Wingham and an urgent needs fund, which supports individuals and families in immediate need with financial support for rent arrears, winter clothes and groceries.

As well, the United Housing initiative helps address the local housing crisis.

Some 40-plus local partners and services benefit from support. In 2022, UWPH helped more than 25,000 people through its partners and in-house programs, the organization said. 

Erb said UWPH understands the holiday season is busy and challenging for a lot of people and they must balance that against community partners asking for more help. Whether it's more people experiencing homelessness, needing food or clothing, or whatever the case may be, the demand is high. 

"We are going to give it our best and hopefully find some holiday miracles, and people will give even more generously and help out."

To donate to the UWPH campaign, call 519-271-7730 or 1-877-818-8867, mail to 32 Erie Street, Stratford, ON N5A 2M4, or visit