Thirteen weeks after kicking off its 2014 fundraising campaign, the United Way of Greater Kansas City on Wednesday night celebrated raising more than $35 million to help the community’s needy.
The charity’s annual campaign shot out of the blocks in September with a raffle that started this year’s fundraising off with $8,000.
And while the total announced at Wednesday night’s victory party at Union Station fell $2 million shy of the $37.5 million brought in a year ago, United Way president Brent Stewart said money is still rolling in.
He also said there will not be a reduction in services to any of its 171 partner agencies in the Kansas City area.
“The work is still happening,” Stewart said. “We have a number of workplace campaigns still running.”
As it has done in past years, the United Way had not set a monetary goal for the campaign. Rather, it sought to increase the number of donors to boost the amount of money raised.
Stewart said all the numbers were not in yet on how many of the campaign’s 60,000 givers were new this year.
Some of the top corporate contributors included Hallmark for its $2.5 million contribution, Black & Veatch at $1.8 million, and Sprint and Burns & McDonnell at $1.7 million each. And for the first time, Kansas City Power & Light passed the $1 million mark.
A new giving group added this year to United Way’s campaign was the Latino Leadership Initiative. At least 10 donors in that group were added to the charity’s leadership level of giving with donations each of $2,400.
“As data comes in, we will see a lot more,” Stewart said in an interview before the night’s celebration.
One reason for this year’s lower dollar total is that a large, one-time gift had boosted last year’s final number.
In addition, Stewart said, giving at federal workplaces was slow this year because the recession has left many still struggling. Of the $35 million total, $2.7 million was raised through the annual Heartland Combined Federal Campaign that United Way manages. And that part of the fundraising fell about $900,000 from last year.
The remaining $32.3 million in Kansas City “was pretty much flat,” Stewart said. He praised the efforts of the 1,600 companies and 1,000 workplace volunteers who participated in this year’s community campaign.
Campaign co-leaders Patrick “Duke” Dujakovich, president of the Greater Kansas City AFL-CIO, and Terry Bassham, president and CEO of KCP&L, both said this year’s accomplishment was significant.
“It has been a great campaign that allows us to focus on many of the challenges we have in our community,” Bassham said.
This year’s campaign focused on new ways to boost the community’s efforts to reduce poverty and improve literacy, career readiness and health. In the Kansas City area, 378,000 people live at or below poverty, 145,000 can’t read, 22 percent of young people are not prepared for the workforce and 200,000 people are in poor health.
United Way went into this year’s campaign knowing, Stewart said, that the challenge and the need were considerable.
“But there was no question in our minds that we would hit the kind of number you saw tonight,” he told the more than 400 who attended the event sponsored by H&R Block.