Local United Way Struggles with Larger Forces: An Oft-Repeated Story

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March 24, 2014; Times Union

This small story had so many trends regarding the United Way embedded in it that we thought we would report it as a vivid example of the position that many, though not all United Ways now find themselves in. For more information about the trends in achieving local fundraising goals, you can read this newswire from Rick Cohen.

In New York, the United Way of the Greater Capital Region had set its sights on raising $5.1 million this year, up from the $4.8 million it raised last year—after all, the economy was improving—but only $4.7 million has been raised to date. According to Bill Flaherty, a National Grid executive and the chair of United Way’s resource development committee, the number of participating businesses has been declining, and even when businesses do participate, they have fewer employees. “Companies like Albany International that move out of town, that hurts a lot,” Flaherty added.

This United Way covers five counties and is the result of the 2007 merger of United Way of Northeastern New York and United Way of Schenectady County. According to its website, the merger’s goal was to “become more efficient and to increase impact by combining regional and local solutions.”—Ruth McCambridge