Donations to United Ways Dropped Last Year

Raymund Flandez shared this article, reminding us all of the difficulties facing nonprofits in the current economic climate.

The sputtering economy made fund raising difficult for local United Ways across the country last year, with contributions of $3.86-billion virtually unchanged from 2009′s total of $3.84-billion.

When inflation is taken into account, though, that 0.4-percent growth is technically a drop of 1.2 percent. Still, it an improvement over the previous year, when donations dropped 5 percent, and United Way officials say it’s a strong showing given the shaky job and stock market.

“We’re still in a difficult economy that could even be more difficult,” says Sal Fabens, United Way Worldwide spokeswoman. “Despite being in a recession, to have some growth is hopeful to me.”

United Way’s traditional sources of donations continue to struggle: Contributions solicited through on-the-job drives grew just 0.2 percent. In addition, corporate giving was down 1.4 percent.

But the organization has been helped by its efforts to diversify its fund-raising approach. United Way says efforts to raise money from particular types of donors, such as well-to-do women, and campaigns to seek out large or planned gifts helped make up for sluggish giving in 2010 among less-affluent people.

United Way reports:

  • Fund raising from affinity groups grew at 11.9 percent, raising more than $200-million in 2010. Donations collected by the United Way Women’s Leadership Council grew by 110 percent.
  • Contributions to endowments and planned gifts increased by 12.7 percent, with bequests rising 27.3 percent.
  • Donations of $10,000 or more from individuals, which accounted for more than one-third of total giving, rose by 1.5 percent.

“It’s great to see some hopeful signs rather than having gone down again,” Ms. Fabens says. “We’ll continue to plug away.”


How are you responding to the current economic climate in your development efforts?


About Gary Coiro

Nonprofit & Church Leader Nonprofit Leader and Consultant since 2004, following 15 years as a pastor. Competencies include board development, fundraising, staff development and management, strategic planning, church work, Bible teaching, and capital campaigns. Currently consulting and serving on the Church Ministries Management Team for a large multi-cultural evangelical church.
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