The United Way of Rutland County is trying again.

The charitable organization kicked off its annual fundraising campaign last week, and the goal is once again $575,000.

“We’ve set the same goal as we had last year because we were really close to meeting it,” Executive Director Caprice Hover said.

Hover said the organization got to $552,000 last year, and it was the first time the organization has fallen short under her tenure.

“I think we’re really in our rebuilding phase,” she said. “The United Way has to change the way we do things and that takes time.”

Hover said they were getting better about addressing unmet needs, such as a recent program to get shoes for area school children, and about communicating what they do to the community. Board President Brian Kearns said that the organization was trying to make more thought-out use of social media, and was fundraising year-round rather than for a portion of the year.

“It’s an aggressive goal,” Kearns said. “It’s a very giving area, and we have so many different ways people would like to give. ... To get a half-million in a year out of the community is an amazing testament to how giving people are.”

Hover said they are expanding “planned giving” — when donors write the organization into their wills — applying for more grants, engaging more with local professionals and seeking more sponsorships.

“We haven’t really gone out actively and found sponsors for any of our events,” she said. “We have increased that this year.”

The United Way distributes the money it raises to dozens of local nonprofits to support a variety of social service programs.

The United Way is also launching a partnership with the Vermont Community Foundation, Vermont Country Store and Goodwill of Northern New England to help area employers have on-site social workers partnering with managers and human-resource departments.

“There are employees that struggle here and there,” Hover said. “It can be anything from my car broke down, to my furnace doesn’t work, to I lost my child care. The social worker would help them garner the resources to get it dealt with.”

gordon.dritschilo @rutlandherald.com

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