February 5, 2010 in City

United Way sees donations rise

Gain of 4 percent bucks national trend of declines, president says
By The Spokesman-Review
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By the numbers

$4.7 million: Money raised during this year’s fundraising drive for Spokane County’s United Way

4 percent: Increase in fundraising over the previous year’s drive

17,600: People and businesses who contributed to the drive

34: Local charitable organizations to which the United Way distributes the money

Spokane County’s United Way has raised $4.7 million from businesses and residents to fund programs that do everything from helping children prepare for school to offering job counseling for adults.

The charitable organization said the donations were 4 percent more than the prior year, marking the largest year-over-year gain in 15 years.

About 17,600 people and businesses contributed.

“I’m just enormously proud of this community,” said Scott Morris, the chief executive of Avista Corp., who has led United Way’s fundraising campaigns the past two years. “This shows the caliber of our people and businesses here.”

While the number fell just short of United Way’s $4.8 million goal, the effort and results are reason for celebration, said Tim Henkel, president and chief executive of Spokane County United Way.

He noted that most United Way organizations across the county were reporting 4 percent to 5 percent decreases in campaign pledges this year.

Money collected by United Way is distributed to 34 local organizations, Henkel said.

Morris will step aside after this year and hand the campaign leadership duties to Michael Covey, the CEO of Potlatch Corp.

Morris pointed out several significant contributors this year. Potlatch, he said, had 100 percent of its employees donate to United Way; Rosauers contributions rose 41 percent from last year; and Deaconess Medical Center and Valley Hospital and Medical Center collected $80,000 under the new ownership of Community Health Systems Inc.

The two hospitals had let their United Way contributions slip over the past few years, United Way officials said.

“We’re very pleased that the hospitals are once again aggressive in their support of United Way,” Morris said.

He noted that Avista raised $383,000 – a blend of money donated by employees and grants from the company treasury.

Six large businesses and organizations collectively raised 38 percent more than last year: Avista, Deaconess and Valley, Potlatch, Rosauers, the Spokane Transit Authority and its employee labor groups the Amalgamated Transit Union locals 1015 and 1598, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3939.

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