United Way falls short of goal

Posted: Monday, February 23, 2004

The United Way in Juneau missed its 2003 fund-raising goal by more than $200,000 and fell well short of the previous year's collections, the agency announced.

United Way received pledges and donations totaling about $390,000 in its 2003 campaign, which ended on Jan. 31, 2004. The initial goal for the campaign was $625,000. It was reduced to $600,000 mid-campaign, said Dawn Miller, executive director of the agency.

"We've had better years," she said.

In 2000 the agency raised $482,000. In 2001, Juneau residents donated $518,000 to the agency. That year, agencies all over the country benefited from increased giving after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Miller said.

Last year, when United Way of Southeast Alaska raised $476,000, the agency was still seeing the results of the post-Sept. 11 boost, she said.

This year the agency was coming down from the boom and suffered from several other setbacks, said Kathleen Frederick, vice president of the United Way board of directors.

"We had a tremendous amount of turnover on the board last year, due to things totally extrinsic to United Way," said Frederick.

Several board members took jobs outside of Southeast Alaska, and one retired after many years of service, she said.

"It's great for them, but it makes it a little bit rougher for us because some of the people you've had there for years are not there to corral their people," said Frederick, who has served on the board for 15 months. She is the third-most senior member of the nine-member board.

Another contributing factor to the poor campaign numbers is that the Glory Hole held an emergency fund-raising drive in the fall, when the downtown shelter's near-empty coffers forced it to close during the day. This campaign, though necessary, may have detracted from the United Way drive, Frederick said.

Miller announced in January that she will be leaving the agency to join her fiance in the Lower 48. The board of directors for United Way has received 24 applications for the position and will begin interviewing candidates this week, said Frederick.

No United Way member agencies are likely to close solely because of the poor results from the fund-raising campaign, Miller said. But the shortage, combined with cuts to state grant programs, could contribute to agencies having to consolidate or streamline their services.

"If the agencies don't have the funding to maintain office operations, clearly that will be reflected in the services they can provide," she said. "There are so many factors that will affect these agencies this year."

The Juneau branch of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence will feel the affects of lower funding from United Way - "any little bit we get helps," said the agency's administrative officer, Barbara Blackman. But she said the funding cuts won't make or break the agency.

"If the actual funding that we get from them goes way down, it will be missed, but we'll still benefit from being a United Way agency," Blackman said.

The American Red Cross of Juneau, also a United Way agency, has not heard how it will be affected by lower United Way funding, said Mike Cresswell, director of the office.

Like many local nonprofit organizations, the Red Cross in Juneau has to work with fewer funds than anticipated this year, Cresswell said. But he doesn't believe the smaller budget will significantly affect the agency's ability to help families in crisis situations.

"We've been able to help families satisfactorily so far," he said.

• Christine Schmid can be reached at christine.schmid@juneauempire.com.

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