VOL. 125 | NO. 45 | Monday, March 08, 2010
United Way Sees Unique Fundraising Success
By Tom Wilemon
The United Way of the Mid-South surpassed its $25 million goal this year, which is encouraging news for the Memphis nonprofit community. However, not all charities are enjoying that kind of success.
The Alliance for Nonprofit Excellence (ANE), which has a mission of strengthening Memphis-area charities, is tracking how they are weathering the recession.
“It just depends on the nonprofit,” said Nancy McGee, the executive director of ANE. “We’re hearing some groups have lost some major donors and are struggling.”
The ANE will conduct a survey this month to follow up on the “Downstream and in Demand: Mid-South Nonprofits and the Economic Crisis” report it released last July. The results will be released in April.
The United Way will have good news to report, having surpassed its campaign by $600,000. The $25.6 million is slightly below the $26.1 million the United Way raised last year.
Dave Skorupa, the United Way’s vice president of communications, said the charity’s volunteers widened the pool of givers to offset the loss in contributions from fewer people being the payrolls of companies that already participated in the campaign.
“They really went out and knocked on doors that hadn’t been knocked on in a while in order to get some organizations re-interested in investing in the community through United Way,” Skorupa said. “A great example of that would be ServiceMaster, who we had not had a campaign with in several years.”
The employees of ServiceMaster collectively contributed more than $158,000.
First Tennessee, which already was a participant, stepped up to do more.
“At First Tennessee, they raised over $1.9 million,” Skorupa said. “That’s a significant increase. A lot of that came from leadership gifts – or individual, large gifts – to the United Way.”
Several United Way organizations throughout the nation did not even set a goal this year for their fundraising campaigns, according to a report in Nonprofit Quarterly.
“The local United Way tends to do really well when compared to other United Ways across the country,” McGee said. “In a way, I was surprised based on the economy that they were able to surpass their goal. Based on the fact that they have such a good history of beating their goals and exceeding goals, I thought, ‘Here they go again. They’ve done very well.’”
Nonprofits that depend on federal and state governments for funding could have a really rough year, McGee said. The one-time infusion of federal stimulus money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 is about to run its course. The state is also making deep funding cuts.
“Those organizations that are primarily funded by the state of Tennessee are concerned because they have been told they are going to get cuts next year,” she said. “They had cuts this year. So they are sort of bracing for that.”