It is no secret that giving to charities is trending downward, and recent data released by United Way Worldwide — including individualized numbers for Kansas United Way organizations — bears that out.
According to the data, total support for Harvey County United Way dropped by two percent between 2014 and 2015 — and they are not alone. Of the 18 reporting agencies in Kansas, only five showed a gain in support. Losses were as high as 33 percent.
“Unfortunately, all of the information you read about giving in the United States today is supported by these numbers. There is still generosity, but giving is down,” said Loni Jensen, campaign chair for the Harvey County United Way. “... If you look at the plus and minuses and who was up and who was down, we are in the middle of the pack. We don't have significant loss.”
According to The NonProfit Times, more than half of United Ways reporting data for 2015 showed declines in fundraising, with the national number dipping more than 4 percent last year.
Total support was $3.547 billion among 1,055 affiliates that reported data to United Way Worldwide for the 2015-16 year that ended in June. That figure is about 4.39 percent less than the total $3.7 billion reported by 1,065 affiliates for 2014-15.
However, according ot United Way Worldwide there are areas of growth.
“We raised $4.78 billion in 2015-16 and are seeing growth in several key areas. A higher percentage of people gave to and engaged directly with United Way to create social change in their communities around the world as opposed to those who consider United Way a pass-through organization only," Ryan Powers, vice president of communications of United Way Worldwide, told The Kansan.
Specifically for Harvey County, in 2014 total support was $293,893. That number shrank by 2 percent to $288,089 in 2015. In McPherson County United Way support dropped 7.2 percent, from $232,046 to $215,440. El Dorado dropped less than 1 percent, from $357,000 to $353,820. Wichita was one of the few United Ways in the state to grow, increasing .5 percent from $16,174,170 to $16,254,660.
Jensen told The Kansan the overall numbers likely reflect societal changes and changes in how those in the workforce give to charitable causes.
According to Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data, the millennial generation is now the largest share of the U.S. workforce. Finding how to get millennials engaged in giving to charity, Jensen said, is the challenge faced by United Way. It is something she is studying as a part of the millennial generation herself.
“It is literally the million dollar question,” Jensen said. “There is not a silver bullet yet. … In terms of fundraising, we have to understand where these young professionals are coming from and what is important to them. Not only are they largest generation in the workplace now, the research shows they are the most generous, ever, in terms of time, talent and treasures. It is not that they are not going to give, it is they are going to give in different ways.”
United Way is adapting, finding new ways to reach donors.
"We are finding continued success in our evolution toward individual engagement from key affinity groups such as women, young leaders, African Americans, high net worth donors and endowment giving. Our technology platforms, like text-to-mobile and other highly personalized, year-round individual relationship efforts, continue to prove effective, particularly among the Millennials,” Powers said.
Statewide United Way support
2014 support; 2015 support; Change
Atchison; $216,564; $215,314; -0.6 percent
Dodge City; $350,900; $324,022; -7.7 percent
El Dorado; $357,000; $353,820; -0.9 percent
Emporia; $652,148; $701,636; 7.6 percent
Garden City; $612,918; $638,220; 4.1 percent
Great Bend; $327,455; $317,856 -2.9 percent
Hays; $468,262; $433,180; -7.5 percent
Hutchinson; $1,680,512; $1,837,888; 9.4 percent
Junction City; $169,362; $132,733; -21.6 percent
Kansas City; $2,264,268; $2,340,231; 3.4 percent
Lawrence; $1,711,112; $1,424,483; -16.8 percent
Leavenworth; $266,000; $206,607; -22.3 percent
Manhattan; $451,867; $438,913; -2.9 percent
McPherson; $232,046; $215,440;-7.2 percent
Newton; $293,893; $288,089; -2.0 percent
Ottawa; $158,246; $166,660; 5.3 percent
Paola; $99,539; $84,977; -14.6 percent
Parsons; $29,954; $19,797; -33.9 percent
Salina; $881,168; $770,392; -12.6 percent
Topeka; $3,493,865; $3,273,325; -6.3 percent
Wichita; $16,174,170; $16,254,660; 0.5 percent
Winfield; $131,351; $135,237; 3.0 percent