The economic downturn has dealt a double whammy to agencies that help the less fortunate. Not only do they have more people in need of help, but they also have fewer resources as donations fall with the economy.

United Way of Norman was faced with difficult choices when 2009 campaign pledges came in lower than organizers hoped. With fewer dollars to go around, some programs had to be dropped from funding, and others had had to make do with less money than they originally were budgeted for. Agencies tightened their belts and have been doing the best they could with the funds they were able to obtain.

Last week, the struggling agencies got some good news: the 2009 campaign raised $80,000 more than expected.

The money will be divided among United Way’s four impact areas: Basic Needs, Successful Children and Youth, Strong and Safe Individuals and Families, and Seniors and Persons with Disabilities. Decisions about the individual funding were based on where volunteers believed the money would make the biggest impact.

United Way switched from an intensive campaign in the fall to a year-round campaign, and the timing of that may have been unfortunate. Although many businesses — including The Transcript — have found it more convenient to schedule United Way drives at times other than the traditional August or September, it meant some of our pledges weren’t included when the total was announced at the annual “victory” celebration, making the victory look less victorious than it was.

Now that the agencies are getting the extra funding, we know they’ll put it to good use.

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