Fundraising Challenges Doom Tiny UW Affiliate

The tiny Tillamook County United Way (TCUW) will close its doors next spring after 44 years.

“Unfortunately, the landscape of fundraising and nonprofits has changed dramatically in recent years,” TCUW officials said in an announcement. “TCUW has sought to remain a vital player in supporting the ever-expanding nonprofits of our community but is simply no longer able to do so efficiently and effectively.”

TCUW, based in Tillamook, Ore., about 70 miles west of Portland, officially will close on March 31, 2021. Donations collected and pledged for this year will be dispersed to member agencies following the donors’ wishes. TCUW did not respond to an email seeking comment.

Founded in 1976, TCUW is one of 13 affiliates in the Beaver State and among the smallest. Total revenue was $27,404 for the fiscal year ending 2018 against expenses of $36,892, for a deficit of $9,488. The affiliate reported net assets of $44,262, according to its Form 990 for FYE 2018.

Annual contributions to the affiliate were running between $70,000 and $80,000 until 2012, according to tax forms, before becoming more sporadic. In 2014, TCUW reported a low of $26,461 in contributions that ushered in several years of big swings in revenue:

  • 2014 – $26,461
  • 2015 – $45,943
  • 2016 – $36,708
  • 2017 – $48,755
  • 2018 – $27,404

That window of time included two years of deficits, in 2016 (-$5,179) and 2018 (-$9,488), in addition to 2013 (-$8,545).

It’s common for as many as a dozen affiliates of United Way to merge each year. There have been at least two mergers so far in 2020. United Way of Collier County merged with the United Way of the Florida Keys, effective April 1. As of July, the United Way of Jefferson & North Walworth Counties merged with the Watertown Area United Way in New York state’s North Country.

United Way Worldwide (UWW) has more than 1,100 affiliates throughout the United States. Last year, the network reported total revenue of $4 billion, including public support of $3.4 billion.