United Way hits heights with its '04 drive

Posted: Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Southeast Alaskans working in the private sector showed more generosity to United Way last fall than ever before.

Including grant funding, gifts and pledges, the 2004 drive raised $633,252 for Southeast Alaska, said Jodi Kilcup, who began working as the executive director last May. The beneficiaries are 32 nonprofit United Way member-groups in Juneau and the region.

"We did work hard, and we did have a very dedicated and committed board of directors," Kilcup said.

The part of the drive that campaign workers were most able to influence - the private campaign - was the highest it has been in the 25 years that United Way of Southeast Alaska has been operating, she added.

The $205,850 in gifts, pledges and in-kind contributions represented nearly an 87 percent increase compared with the $110,220 raised in the 2003 private campaign. Previously, the most raised by the local campaign was $186,913.

The pledges are funds that people choose to have taken out of their paychecks, and some simply make lump-sum gifts, she explained. They can either earmark the money for a specific nonprofit organization or give it to the Southeast Alaska United Way board to distribute.

In-kind contributions, which make up about $17,000 of this year's total, are goods and services that companies donate that reduce United Way overhead. For example, the organization only pays half of the market rent, she explained. Princess Cruises and Tours will host an on-shipboard event for 75 to 100 people later in the year, she added.

Kilcup said it keeps the overhead as low as possible. "That's the name of the game with nonprofits."

"We have a new, dynamic executive director and a very engaged board," said 2004 Volunteer Campaign Chair Sharon Kelly.

Also contributing to the total is the Alaska State SHARE campaign, which raised about $131,908 in Southeast Alaska. The Combined Federal Campaign generated $155,494 in the region. Both were down about 2 percent from their 2003 totals.

The three campaigns generated $493,252, the second largest in the history of United Way of Southeast Alaska, Kilcup reported.

The largest total for the three drives was the $523,271, raised in 2001, following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

A $140,000 grant from the Anchorage-based Rasmuson Foundation brought the 2004 total to $633,252.

Kelly said the fact that 2004 was a big election year in Alaska did not help fund-raising efforts because many people had less to give because they made political contributions.

She said the showing from the private sector was most impressive.

• Tony Carroll can be reached at tony.carroll@juneauempire.com.

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