United Way of Allegheny County reports increase 2013-14 in fundraising

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United Way of Allegheny County raised nearly $34 million in its 2013-14 fundraising campaign, surpassing the prior year’s total by 2.3 percent.

It was the fourth consecutive year that the community charity posted a gain in contributions as a result of the campaign that runs from September to April and is marked largely by workplace fundraising events.

“Pittsburgh has a great tradition of generosity and a great tradition of supporting United Way,” said Robert Nelkin, president and chief professional officer of the Strip District agency that is an affiliate of United Way Worldwide.

United Way revealed its $33.9 million total during the annual campaign celebration held Thursday at the Westin Convention Center Hotel, Downtown.

The 10 largest United Way affiliates in the U.S. averaged less than 1 percent growth in the dollar amounts raised last year.

Mr. Nelkin said he believes the local organization has sustained increases every year since 2010 because it has been able to show quantifiable results for programs that receive money from its Impact Fund, a pool of money that targets struggling individuals, including veterans and women in crisis.

For instance, calls received last year by PA 2-1-1, a human services help line, rose to 58,000. That was an increase of more than 100 percent over 2012, United Way said. Among the help that the service provided to callers in 2013 was scheduling more than 5,800 free tax appointments for people who met low-income limits.

“As we help people understand our work by giving them more finite, illustrative examples of the impact they can have, we are increasing the gifts,” said Mr. Nelkin.

Corporate contributions rose by 4.1 percent and included more than $250,000 in donations from 32 organizations that made first-time gifts, the agency said.

Despite a decline in the number of Fortune 500 companies based here, Mr. Nelkin said United Way has benefited from new campaigns launched by smaller startups. “The future of United Way has to include being much more relevant and accessible to small and mid-size businesses,” he said.

In other giving categories, United Way’s Tocqueville Society, which includes donors who contribute $10,000 or more annually, grew its membership to 443 from 425 in 2012.

The Women’s Leadership Council, female philanthropists who give at least $1,000 each year, grew from 1,800 to 1,918 members last year.

Also Thursday, United Way said Charity Navigator, an independent organization that evaluates nonprofits’ accountability and transparency, gave it a four-star rating for the fourth year in a row.

Joyce Gannon: jgannon@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1580. First Published June 5, 2014 2:26 PM

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