Community Foundation & United Way: Making Fort Dodge Better
Sunday, February 03, 2019
Just about everyone favors making Fort Dodge a better place to call home. The opportunities to be part of accomplishing that goal are many. Helping make charitable giving easy and effective is at the heart of the mission of the Fort Dodge Community Foundation and United Way. This nonprofit organization links those with philanthropy in mind with worthy recipients. It is a multifaceted clearinghouse for a wide assortment of projects and causes.
“As a philanthropic organization its sole purpose is to help Fort Dodge and Webster County become a better place to live, work and raise families,” said Randy Kuhlman, the organization’s longtime chief executive officer. “We raise funds and make grants for a wide range of projects, programs and organizations that are focused on improving the quality of life in our community and county.”
In most communities charitable efforts are handled by multiple entities. In Fort Dodge and Webster County, a more consolidated approach has been in place for more than a decade.
The Fort Dodge Community Foundation and United Way, 24 N. Ninth St., Suite B, was created in July 2007. It merged the functions of United Way of Greater Fort Dodge and the Community Foundation of Fort Dodge and North Central Iowa. (Initially named United Way and Community Foundation of Northwest Iowa, it was subsequently renamed the Fort Dodge Community Foundation and United Way.)
The two components of this enterprise perform complementary but somewhat distinct functions. There is, however, an overarching goal that unites the diverse projects supported – encouraging people to give back to their community. Linking potential donors with the multiple ways that can be accomplished is at the heart of what the organization does, according to Kuhlman.
The United Way component of the organization raises money to support a growing number of programs and services.
“For United Way funds are generally raised in our campaign in the fall,” Kuhlman said. “Then they are distributed out to various organizations, projects and programs that are focused on helping people.”
For 2018-2019, the United Way Community Campaign, which is chaired by Mike Johnson, who is co-owner of Calvert & Johnson Insurance Services Inc., has set raising $425,000 as its target. That’s a bit more than the just over $400,000 contributed in 2017-2018.
A people focus is a fundamental characteristic of the entities and projects United Way supports.
“Our highest priority is focused on helping disadvantaged youth and their families.” Kuhlman said. “We know that a lot of youth are in lower-income families and have a lot of obstacles they are dealing with to achieve in school and to develop in a healthy and positive way. And so, we work with our schools and our partner agencies to help reach those kids and their families to hopefully give them ultimately a better, brighter future.”
He explained that a major part of the money the annual campaign raises is allocated to an array of approximately 40 local nonprofit organizations or projects. It helps these established undertakings have a dependable annual source or revenue.