Donations to the United Way of Anderson County were down this year, and on Thursday, officials cited challenges in the federal contracting community, including the July 28 security breach at the Y-12 National Security Complex and the later departure of security contractor WSI.
There was also an end to federal stimulus money, a freeze in federal budgets and salaries, and a new consolidated contract to manage Y-12 and the Pantex Plant near Amarillo, Texas, which could result in the departure of B&W Y-12, said Rick Morrow, UWAC executive director.
The United Way of Anderson County had hoped to raise $1.4 million in the fiscal year that ended March 31, but volunteers and staff members fell short of that, collecting $1,277,771.
“This has been a tough year,” said Buzz Patrick, who was recognized as Volunteer of the Year during an annual meeting at the Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge on Thursday morning.
Last year, United Way raised $1,376,213.
Morrow said U.S. Department of Energy contractors have been “great friends, great supporters.” Still, he and several United Way volunteers said the organization has to diversify its revenue base.
“We just can’t always depend on DOE and DOE companies,” said Tom Hilton, the 2012 campaign chair.
This year’s shortfall translated into a $200,000 reduction in the money allocated to agency partners. No agencies were cut, but four programs within member agencies were, officials said.
Despite the challenges in the federal contracting community, though, several of the Top 10 contributors were DOE contractors. The Top 3 were UT-Battelle, B&W Y-12, and Oak Ridge Associated Universities. Others in the Top 10 were American Centrifuge Manufacturing LLC, AMETEK Inc., UCOR, Y-12 Federal Credit Union, ORNL Federal Credit Union, Bechtel National Inc., and Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge.
Hilton said a dozen companies donated a combined $53,000 more than they did last year, a 38 percent increase.
“That went a long way toward covering some of our shortfalls,” said Roger Kiger, UWAC board treasurer.
Kiger said United Way volunteers and staff knew DOE contractors were going to have a difficult year, and they notified agencies in advance. In addition, the organization’s staff controlled its expenses, with the 2013 operating budget 1.5 percent lower than it was in 2005.
“Rick has done a great job,” Kiger said.
This year, United Way is launching a coordinated media campaign to raise awareness about its roughly three dozen member agencies. They have 51 programs in three core areas: basic human needs, youth development, and senior needs, a press release said.
“We want to share with this community all the positive programs and outcomes our agencies provide this community,” Morrow said. Agencies will host open houses so the public can see firsthand their donations at work.
Morrow said more people could donate to United Way this year.
“I think we could see a strong recovery,” he said.