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United Way falls short with annual campaign

United Way falls short with annual campaign

The United Way of the Greater Capital Region missed its 2012 campaign goal by more than $250,000 but

The United Way of the Greater Capital Region missed its 2012 campaign goal by more than $250,000 but still raised nearly $5 million for the year, officials said Tuesday.

The organization that helps support more than 90 human service programs in five counties had set a goal of $5.2 million. Just over $4.9 million has been donated so far.

“It’s now a year-round process. We will keep [the campaign] open until spring,” said Brian Hassett, the United Way’s president and CEO.

He said the shortfall will have a “significant impact” for some local human service agencies already struggling because of reductions in federal funding. He said reducing funding from $10,000 to $5,000, for example, for a domestic violence program or homeless shelter has a definite, negative impact.

The United Way of the Greater Capital Region funds human service agencies in Schenectady, Albany, Saratoga, Schoharie and Rensselaer counties.

The 2012 shortfall is caused by a combination of factors, Hassett said. The sluggish economy since 2008, with more middle-class people struggling just to pay their bills, has had an impact on contributions to many nonprofit organizations, not just the United Way.

Seven years ago, contributions to the region’s United Way peaked at more than $10 million. This was a couple of years before the Great Recession of 2008. The 2011 United Way campaign raised about $5 million.

General Electric and Price Chopper were two of the largest contributors to the 2012 campaign, Hassett said. These two companies, and their many hundreds of employees who donated to the United Way campaign, raised between $1.8 million and $1.9 million during the past year.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy and Bechtel, the global engineering and construction corporation with local operations, also provided significant contributions to the campaign, Hassett said.

Most of the money each year for the campaign comes from working people who have their pledges taken automatically from their paychecks. The average pledge is between $50 and $100 per year.

Hassett said a couple of companies have yet to report their final pledges, and a few individual contributors, who have provided major gifts in the past, haven’t sent donations yet. He said some of these major donors may have retired and left the region.

When a company such as Albany International Corp. moves its headquarters from the region this often affects contributions, as well, he said.

Hassett said he and the staff of the United Way are seeking to better connect with professional lobbying and law firms that work in the state Capitol.

“We are reaching out to as many as possible,” he said.

People or businesses interested in helping the United Way reach its goal in the coming months can contact Hassett at 456-2200, ext. 111.

Money donated to the United Way helps people to get the assistance they need so setbacks such as job loss, illness or family struggles don’t lead to long-term suffering. The United Way funds a network of 56 human service agencies representing 91 programs, from food pantries and homeless shelters to afterschool programs and mentoring projects.

The United Way of the Greater Capital Region is located off Washington Avenue Extension in Albany. The mailing address is One United Way, P.O. Box 13865, Albany, NY 12212.

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