The United Way of Northern New York has awarded $356,600 in grant funding to partner agencies in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties that was raised during its 2013 campaign.
Funding awarded by the agency is down from last year’s $430,000 because of a decrease in pledged donations, Chief Executive Officer Robert D. Gorman said. Even so, the agency was able to fund three agencies that didn’t receive grants last year: Family Counseling Service of Northern New York, the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired of Jefferson County and ACR Health, Canton.
“Last year the United Way didn’t fund organizations for various reasons,” said Mr. Gorman, who succeeded Jayn M. Graves as head of the agency last summer. “But in a year in which our revenue is down, we were able to bring them back into the fold.”
The agency, led by volunteer committees that decide how funding is awarded, was able to provide funding to those three agencies by granting lower requests to others in some cases, Mr. Gorman said. In addition, the Children’s Home of Jefferson County’s board of directors decided not to make a funding request after receiving $20,000 last year.
“Some of our partner agencies actually requested less money this year because they knew our revenues would be down,” Mr. Gorman said.
For the 2013 campaign, the Jefferson County United Way Campaign raised $580,622, down from $598,622 raised in 2012; the St. Lawrence County campaign raised $113,299, down from $133,790, and the Lewis County campaign raised $60,486, up slightly from last year’s $60,055.
Pledged donations in 2013 by state employees through the State Employees Federated Appeal were down from 2012 in Jefferson/Lewis counties and St. Lawrence; funding raised by the Jefferson/Lewis campaign decreased from $79,270 to $68,456, while the St. Lawrence County campaign fell from $58,373 to $49,764.
The decline in financial support from large manufacturers in the region, which has occurred gradually over the last 40 years, has compelled the United Way to recruit more small businesses to become partners, he said.
“Historically, the United Way has depended on major manufacturing businesses for the majority of its funding,” he said. “We could go to a company with 500 to 1,000 employees and go to the employees to make pledges. But with the decline of manufacturing and increase in service jobs, we have to knock on more doors and convince more small businesses to participate in the United Way.”
The agency recently has made strides in recruiting new businesses to become United Way partners, and it will be increasing its outreach efforts this year.
“There were five or six companies in the last couple of months that are doing United Way campaigns,” Mr. Gorman said. “We’re forming committees in all three counties that will help knock on doors to talk with more businesses to become partners.”
Another hurdle for raising funds has been recruiting younger employees to make pledged donations, Mr. Gorman said. He said that many younger adults may not know about the critical role the agency plays.
“They’re not making the decision to invest in the community,” he said. “Nonprofits have been here for about an average of 30 years, and it’s not easy to know that it’s the citizens of the community that are needed for their survival. Every one of our nonprofits will say United Way funding is critical to their survival.”
As an example of the lifesaver role played by the agency, Mr. Gorman cited a $15,000 gift made by the United Way from its endowment fund to Family Counseling Service in December. “That funding helped us get them back in business,” he said.
A list of grants awarded by the United Way of Northern New York is available at http://wdt.me/JzDBsQ.
The United Way of Northern New York has made changes to its funding cycle to accommodate the fiscal year of its nonprofit partners, which starts in January.
To do that, the agency will make grant payouts to nonprofits for a longer period over the next three years, CEO Robert D. Gorman said. This year, the agency will make payouts for 14 months from this June through July 2015; it then will make payouts for 14 months from August 2015 through September 2016, and for 15 months from October 2016 through December 2017.
The agency then will be positioned to announce grant funding in October and award it in January. Payments will be made over 12 months.
“I had a number of nonprofits say they found the way grants are announced isn’t as helpful as it could be,” Mr. Gorman said. “In October, nonprofits are guessing what they are going to get in funding. We are moving the cycle so that grants are announced in October and they know the funding that will come January 1.”