United Way announces 2022 campaign success

Greater Mankato Area United Way's CEO Barb Kaus stands at Shared Spaces in Mankato, while the nonprofit's 2022 campaign chair Melanie VanRoekel video conferences in behind her, after they announced the nonprofit reached its $2.06 fundraising goal Friday.

MANKATO — The Greater Mankato Area United Way achieved its campaign goal for 2022, paving the way for dozens of local nonprofits to receive their shares of donations.

Surpassing the $2.06 million threshold for donations ensured the United Way met its goal for the seventh straight year.

After announcing the met goal, campaign chair Melanie VanRoekel, of United Prairie Bank, said it was an honor to rally donations for the cause even during a tough year.

“When times are hard and pockets are stretched thin, there’s a strong belief of helping and lifting each other up that I don’t think you find everywhere,” she said of the Mankato area.

VanRoekel was excited but also a little scared when United Way CEO Barb Kaus approached her about chairing the campaign about a year ago. While there’s pressure attached to having your name and company be front and center for the campaign, VanRoekel said she was glad to do it.

“It’s a big undertaking,” she said. “But the idea of raising that kind of money in order to help our community be more inclusive, so all our neighbors and friends and coworkers can get the support they need to be included in the community, meant a lot to me.”

Campaign chairs serve as the face of the fundraising effort each year, going around the community to rally donations and share how the funding helps. They work closely with the United Way team, which organizes numerous donation rallies at workplaces — complementing the fundraising drives set up by employers themselves.

Along with all the rallies, matching donation pledges contributed to this year’s campaign success. An anonymous donor matched donations up to $35,000, the Andreas Foundation had a match up to $40,000, and the Emerging Leaders United program organized a $10,000 match, Kaus said.

A total of 40 agencies with 59 programs serving Blue Earth, Nicollet, Le Sueur or Waseca countries will benefit from the funds raised. They apply for funding, followed by United Way’s review process to allocate portions of the funds to select recipients.

“They’re able to continue the work they’re committed to for 2022,” Kaus said of the campaign’s impact. “They’re receiving the dollars the impact review team said they’d get if they hit the goal. Now that we’ve hit it, they start getting the payments.”

The 2023 campaign will kick off Aug. 1. Nonprofits are on track to receive additional funding before then now that the 2022 goal was reached, Kaus said, as donations continue to be collected.

“This isn’t the end of the campaign, because the need is growing and it’s rapidly growing,” she said.

The 2022 campaign is the 90th annual fundraising drive for the Mankato area. It started out as the Community Chest in 1931 with a $6,000 goal and gradually increased to $2.06 million over nine decades.

Follow Brian Arola @BrianArola

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