King County Again Leads United Way Affiliates

September 19, 2012       Mark Hrywna      

The United Way of King County led all United Way affiliates in public support for at least the fourth year in a row, despite a drop-off of more than 12 percent last year. The Seattle-based agency was the only affiliate to top $100 million, according to a compilation of data from affiliates released on Wednesday by United Way Worldwide in Alexandria, Va.

The top five United Way affiliates by public support for 2011 would have been unchanged for a fourth consecutive year had St. Louis not jumped ahead of Houston:

* United Way of King County, Seattle, Wash. -$102,608,092, down 12.6 percent from $117,390,119

* United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta, Atlanta, Ga. -$99,619,375, up 3 percent from $96,675,444

* Greater Twin Cities United Way, Minneapolis, Minn. -$91,211,996, up 2.2 percent from $89,215,904

* United of Greater St. Louis, St. Louis, Mo. -$83,809,127, up 13.5 percent from $73,825,094

* United Way of Greater Houston, Houston, Texas -$81,297,189, up 5.5 percent from $81,297,189

Overall, about 423 United Way affiliates generated at least $1 million in public support in 2011, compared with 457 in the previous year’s report. The average among the 423 affiliates came to about $8.31 million.

About 244 affiliates reported an increase in public support compared with about 172 that reported a decline. In all, those affiliates that raised at least $1 million reported total public support of $3.515 billion, up 1.625 percent over their previous year’s total of $3.459 billion.

Median public support among affiliates was $2.973 million by United Way of Marathon County in Wausau, Wisc., which was up 4.8 percent from $2.836 million the prior year. The median percentage increase among affiliates was up 1.4 percent, experienced by United Way of South Texas in McAllen, Texas, which raised $4.051 million, up from $3.995 million.

Last year’s median aggregate total among affiliates reporting $1 million was $2.701 million, by Mentor, Ohio-based United Way of Lake County Ohio.

Year-to-year comparisons can be deceiving because it’s not uncommon to have a significant swing from one year to the next, often based on only a few major gifts. For example, donors in King County’s Million Dollar Roundtable pay their commitment over five years but the full amount of the pledge gets logged into the fiscal year in which the commitment made.

A couple of donors and companies decided for various reasons to wait on significant gifts until after the summer to make their pledge, and anything after June 30 is logged into the next year, according to Jared Erlandson, public relations manager for United Way of King County.

The top affiliates by percentage increase from 2010 to 2011 were:

* United Way of Clarksville in Clarksville, Tenn. -89.9 percent — $1,684,111, up from $887,024

* Maui United Way in Wailuku, Hawaii -82.1 percent — $1,045,689, up from $574,269

* United Way of Fresno County in Fresno, Calif. -111 percent — $4,843,954, up from $2,677,999

* United Way of Dutchess-Orange Region in Montgomery, N.Y. -71.2 percent — $2,682,443, up from $1,566,942

* United Way of Eastern Maine in Bangor, Maine -66.6 percent — $5,031,117, up from $3,019,947

It’s not uncommon to see some significant swings in data, and the percentage increases can be deceiving. For instance, among the largest percentage spikes a year ago was Manchester, N.H.-based Granite United Way, which seemingly doubled revenue. However, it was the result of a merger among four UW affiliates in New Hampshire.

Affiliates with the largest percentage decreases from 2010 to 2011 were:

* United Way of Wabash Valley in Terre Haute, Ind. -57 percent — $2,058,405, down from $4,783,080

* United Way of Monroe County in Bloomington, Ind. -34.6 percent, $1,492,189, down from $2,282,681

* Inland Empire United Way in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. -32.6 percent, $5,071,812, down from $7,523,904

* United Way of Camden County in Camden, N.J. -32.3 percent, $3,243,046 down from $4,789,400

* United Way of Muscatine in Muscatine, Iowa -26.6 percent, $1,106,287, down from $1,507,418

Two of the largest drops this year were at affiliates that had the largest increases last year. Inland Empire United Way jumped 66 percent to $7.5 million last year, from $4.5 million in 2009, mainly the result of a boost in in-kind donations specifically for school-related programs.

Similarly, United Way of Wabash Valley, in Terre Haute, Ind., looked like one of the biggest gainers last year (up 111 percent) but the largest drop in support this year (down 57 percent). The affiliate received a $6-million grant from the state association of United Ways to deal with flooding in the region and most of the funds were received and spent during 2009. Outside of the $4.78 million in public support for 2010, Wabash Valley raised $2.2 million in public support in 2009 and $2.058 million last year.