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United Way pledges down in St. Lawrence County, campaign carries on


The United Way of Northern New York’s 2013 campaign is down, but not out.

While Chief Executive Officer Robert D. Gorman said the campaign in St. Lawrence County is down significantly from the 2012 campaign, there’s plenty of time to forge new partnerships and encourage giving.

He also said the United Way often must wait to determine the level of corporate giving it will receive.

“If they’re a national organization, they may not say until May,” Mr. Gorman said. “We know the St. Lawrence County number will jump, but I’m not expecting it to be at $130,000, as it was last year.”

For the 2012 campaign, the St. Lawrence County United Way campaign raised $133,790, and thus far for the 2013 campaign, the agency has raised $82,231,25 — so far a $51,558.75 deficit.

Fewer major, large-scale employers are participating, and businesses that have had contract negotiations and/or layoffs are giving less, both contributing factors in the donation decline. Mr. Gorman said the United Way has knocked on doors to spread the word of need throughout the north country, and will continue to do so in hopes that pledges and donations continue to trickle in.

The United Way hopes to become less reliant on its $1 million endowment to help supplement funds that are awarded to local nonprofits, Mr. Gorman said. For the past few years, the United Way has tapped into that endowment.

“We just can’t keep eating our seed corn,” he said.

Meanwhile, one of the misconceptions Mr. Gorman said he’s heard from people about the United Way is that the agency receives federal funds. He said while that is inaccurate, the agency does receive a fraction of the money collected through the combined federal campaign. So far this year that amount is $7,045, out of a total of about $160,000 collected from area federal employees.

The State Employees Federated Appeal is down in St. Lawrence County. So far, the St. Lawrence County SEFA campaign is down $13,307, from $58,373 for the 2012 campaign to $45,066 so far for 2013.

He said he knew the United Way’s overall campaign wouldn’t completely turn around in his first year as the organization’s leader, and although donations are down for now, there is a plan in place to get the United Way on an upswing.

“I’ve been very excited; our three campaign chairs have signed up to do it again,” he said. “We’ve started to put together a strong team, so year after year we’re not reinventing the wheel.”

Mr. Gorman said former SUNY Canton President Joseph L. Kennedy will again lead the 2014-2015 St. Lawernce County campaign.

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