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Sorting out United Way giving

Post by Kim Bradford on April 29, 2007 at 7:57 am with No Comments »
April 29, 2007 7:57 am

Our recent editorial about the United Way’s 2006 fundraising campaign went to press before I could get some questions answered about how 2006 compared to 2005’s campaign.

In 2005, United Way of Pierce County raised $12.2 million. Last year, it raised $13.7 million including a one-time $1.75 million match from Craig and Niki Ueland, the Russell Investment Group, George and Dion Russell, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Take the match away, and United Way actually raised less in 2006 than it did in 2005.

I asked Rick Allen, United Way president, about the apparent decline. He confirmed that total giving was down in 2006. There are several reasons why. Gifts-in-kind declined, which was no surprise since 2005 was a record-setting year thanks to some one-time events. Contributions in the federal workforce campaign also were down due to huge troop deployments, and United Way lost a bit of grant funding for specific programs.

One place giving was up was in the community solutions fund, which targets the county’s most pressing needs as determined by a broad group of volunteers. Still, the net increase – 18 percent – alone was not enough to qualify for the $1.75 million match, which was contingent upon donors coughing up $2 million in new money for the fund.

Allen explained that a "qualifying match dollar" did not always equate into a net increase. Here was his example of how that works:

Company A’s contribution to the 2005 campaign was $100. It had three employees, and all three gave ($25, $25, and $50).

Company A had 1 employee leave, and that employee was the $50 giver.

In 2006, a new employee gave $50, which qualified for the match. The two other employees gave their same amount, so the company’s total contribution remained at $100 with three employee givers.

The new $50 went to the Community Solutions Fund. It did not result in "net" new dollars to the fund (the $50 was there last year from a different employee), even though it did qualify for the match.

The upshot: The 2006 campaign was much more about the kind of contributions United Way received than the total take.

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