From Pete Najera, United Way of the Plains President & CEO
How many people in south central Kansas require assistance with their most basic needs? Do we really benefit from all the nonprofits that operate in Wichita and the charitable work they provide?
The 2022 data helps answer both questions. In Kansas, the state’s 2-1-1 social service hotline, provides a public service that fielded over 150,000 calls last year from our neighbors who needed to be connected to helpful services. Instead of dialing 9-1-1, these Kansans called 2-1-1 for assistance with rent to prevent eviction, support for utilities to provide heat for the winter and water for hygiene, help with food so kids don’t go hungry, access to healthcare to avoid missing work, or quite simply the location to the nearest homeless shelter when all else has failed.
One of the largest public charities in Wichita, United Way of the Plains, provided over 611,000 instances of service to those in need last year, demonstrating the enormous volume of activity that happens behind the scenes to improve and strengthen the human condition. And all of it was powered by charitable donations as well as the hard work of volunteers.
These vital services to our community are under stress due to diminished resources. For just the fourth time in the past 54 years, charitable giving was down last year across the country. In fact, after adjusting for inflation, the 10% drop was the steepest ever recorded year on year. This is a difficult financial reality facing most nonprofits. Fewer donations combined with increasing costs make it more challenging to provide needed assistance to our neighbors.
November 15 is National Philanthropy Day. It’s a moment to bring attention to those charities in our community that are providing necessary social services to support our neighbors while highlighting the fact that they are powered by the generous donations and time commitments of caring community members.