Inflation Beats United Way Giving Increase

With the 2011 campaign season in effect, we’re hoping to see an increase in contributions for United Ways this year. Due to the economy, giving to United Ways reached $3.86 billion in 2010, compared to $3.84 billion in 2009. While this sounds like 0.4 percent growth, it is technically a drop of 1.2 percent, when inflation is taken into account (

While these results may not be extremely favorable, there are still a number of individual United Ways across the U.S. who are doing very well. How you might ask? By diversifying their fundraising approach.

From making an effort to raise funds from particular donor groups, to seeking out planned gifts from individuals, United Ways are noticing an increase in contributions. Fundraising from affinity groups grew at 11.9 percent in 2010, raising more than $200 million, while contributions to endowments and planned gifts increased by 12.7 percent, with bequests rising 27.3 percent (

We would encourage you to look at different avenues for raising funds as well, as United Way’s traditional sources of donations continue to struggle (including workplace campaigns and corporate giving). More and more we are seeing a decrease in giving through the workplace campaign.

United Ways who are succeeding are doing the following:

  • Focusing on Donor Groups: Whether you get a group of retirees or young people together, make an effort to communicate effectively and efficiently with that group, and get them involved with your United Way.
  • Becoming More Donor-Centric: Turn your focus to connecting with donors directly, rather than relying on reaching them through their workplace. Ask donors for their personal contact information, when they are planning to retire, what issues they are interested in, preferred communication methods, and engagement opportunities – all of these are great items to include on your pledge form.
  • Engaging the Younger Generation in Volunteering: Connect with young people in your community. While they may not be the ones who are giving to your United Way right now, you want to make sure they are giving to you in the future. Reach out to them and invite them to volunteer. Those who volunteer for United Way now are more likely to give to your United Way in the future.

Let us know how you have already diversified your fundraising approach or how you are planning to do so in the future by leaving us a comment below.

Happy Fundraising,