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January 19, 2006

Pitt exceeds United Way goal

More than a half-million dollars has been raised through the University’s 2005 United Way fundraising drive, surpassing the goal set.

As of Jan. 6, $502,963 has been pledged: $476,573 from faculty and staff, $24,390 from retirees and $2,000 from special events, exceeding the 2005 campaign’s $500,000 goal.

“The University community is to be commended for its commitment to United Way and the people of our region,” said Pitt United Way campaign manager Anne Franks, applauding participants’ support.

“This has been a very successful campaign, due in large part to the outstanding efforts of the coordinators and representatives who worked hard in their individual departments to encourage participation and raise money.”

Donations still are being accepted. Credit card and “bill me at home” donations can be made on line at Payroll deduction forms may be requested from Jean McDonough at 412/624-5846 or

Among faculty and staff, the participation rate was 23.53 percent, with 2,130 donors making contributions. Retiree donors numbered 145. Some donors — 162 faculty/staff members and eight retirees — opened their wallets extra wide to donate at the leadership level of $1,000 or more.

Of the total pledged, nearly a quarter-million dollars ($234,149) was designated for the Impact Fund — a subgroup of 68 local United Way partner agencies that have been identified as efficiently addressing the region’s most pressing needs and highlighted as a priority by the United Way of Allegheny County (UWAC).

While the total pledged by the University community is substantial, the campaign has had its ups and downs in recent years.

The 2000 Pitt campaign set a record of $657,745 when Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg chaired the UWAC campaign.

While faculty and staff participation rates have increased from 20 percent in 2003 to about 23 percent in 2005, the dollars collected have varied. Pitt’s 2005 campaign was higher than 2004’s total of $489,591 but $15,180 lower than 2003’s total of $518,143.

Pitt campaign co-chairman Reynolds Clark expressed pride in being able to maintain giving at around the half-million-dollar level, but added, “That’s a good base of donation, but I think we can do better. I always think there’s room for improvement.”

UWAC spokesman Patrick Mangus said overall campaign goals have been reduced in recent years, from $33.1 million in 2003 to $30.7 million in 2005. That can be attributed, in part, to a nationwide accounting change from 2004. Local United Ways now may count only the dollars raised in their immediate area, even if they raise money elsewhere. UWAC now may report only dollars raised in Allegheny County, artificially reducing its total. Donations from Pitt’s regional campuses, while counted as part of the University’s total, are credited to the regionals’ local United Way chapters.

Another factor, Mangus said, is the increase in the number of good causes seeking donations along with high-profile disasters such as Hurricane Katrina or the 2004 tsunami competing for dollars. “There are lots of folks trying to raise money and people have their favorites,” he said.

“We remind people it’s great to be giving to worthwhile causes, but the needs are still here in Pittsburgh.”

Another concern is that there are fewer workers in the region and more hands out seeking donations. “This is a workplace campaign,” Mangus said, citing the troubling trend of employers packing up and leaving town. “The big challenge is how do you begin to increase donations from a shrinking workplace campaign?”

Clark said that aspect is not a problem at the University. “We’re a strong economic factor in the community right now,” he said, citing continuing expansion of the Pitt workforce.

He said he plans to continue focusing on improving the participation percentages, even as the number of Pitt employees increases. He also is looking into ways to add student participation to the campaign.

Clark said he believes the power of personally asking co-workers to give is a strong influencer, and commended his fellow committee members and department coordinators for their leadership by example in being not only askers, but givers as well.

“When peers ask each other to support things they’re very focused on, it happens,” he said.

—Kimberly K. Barlow

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