Joe Burris

United Way of King County Announces $58.9 Million in Fundraising for Fiscal Year 2020; Efforts to Help Those Impacted by the Pandemic Continue

(SEATTLE)—United Way of King County today announced it raised $58.9 million for the fundraising year that ended June 30. The amount surpassed the $40.9-million goal set by the organization, due to the extra efforts to raise funds to provide relief for people impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Thanks to the generosity of community-minded individuals and corporate partners, the COVID-19 Community Relief Fund raised $18.4 million for the three areas United Way focused on: rental assistance, food relief and where the need is greatest. The funds raised by the Community Relief Fund are part of the total amount raised by the organization.

“We are extremely grateful for the way the community stepped up to help in this time of crisis,” said Gordon McHenry, Jr., president and CEO of United Way of King County. “While these numbers show that it was a good fundraising year for us, they also reflect the urgent need that exists, particularly within our communities of color, including Black, Latino and Indigenous populations. Because of systemic and structural racism, communities of color were hurting even before the pandemic. United Way and its service partners is focused on helping these communities.” 

The leadership from campaign co-chairs Chris Capossela and Leigh Toner was essential in achieving this significant milestone at a time of great challenges in our community. Together, they helped United Way exceed expectations and were instrumental in the organization’s Eat, Drink & Be Generous celebration and fundraising event. 

“We’re so grateful to have the opportunity to serve people in need in our community,” said Capossela. “The programs United Way and its partners have put in place are positively impacting the lives of people in our communities who need it most. From housing, to food, to education, United Way and its donors are making a difference.”

Approximately $1 million of the Community Relief Fund came from online donations from about 2,600 donors. The most common gift was $50. Every dollar donated to the fund went to help people in the community with their housing and food needs. 

When the COVID-19 crisis hit the region, United Way quickly moved to provide rental assistance using the Home Base program, which was originally designed to help people who had fallen behind in their rent avoid eviction. In early April, Home Base was relaunched to provide rental assistance to workers who had lost all or part of their income due to the pandemic with funds from the Community Relief Fund.

The Community Relief Fund included $5 million in contributions from the City of Seattle, King County and the Seattle Foundation. With those funds, almost 2,900 households, or about 8,400 individuals, received rental assistance from April through June. Nearly three-quarters of applicants who received help were people of color. 

But the needs of the most vulnerable in the community are much larger than the assistance United Way can provide. When the organization launched the rental assistance program, it hoped to help 2,000 tenants; however, within the first 72 hours, 7,000 households applied for assistance, so the application portal was put on pause due to the overwhelming number of applicants.

Working with public and private partners, United Way also provided food relief to 1,800 families who were food-insecure before the pandemic with $800 in Safeway grocery vouchers. 

Additionally, when schools shut down in early spring due to coronavirus concerns, United Way began providing free meals to school-aged children who normally would have received free or reduced-price meals.

As in the case of rental assistance, the needs of families who are hurting vastly exceed the resources available. There are now 17,000 more families receiving food assistance than there were in January—a 17% increase—because of the pandemic.

The money raised reflects the way United Way donors recognized the dire needs during these unprecedented times and donated to programs such as Bridge to Finish, which supports community college students finish their education and helps them break the cycle of poverty. 

The funds raised during fiscal year 2020 also supported Streets to Homes and Jobs Connect, which help people get back on their feet by connecting them to housing and to jobs that will help them stay in their homes.

Thanks to the support from Champions, Change Makers and Emerging Leaders 365, United Way was well-positioned to quickly pivot to supply assistance to people impacted by COVID.

The King County community continues to hurt as this public health crisis rages on. Close to 436,000 people applied for unemployment between March and mid-July. We know that these workers are struggling to make ends meet, so United Way will continue to raise funds and help as many out-of-work people as possible. 

NOTE: In addition to the $58.9 million raised for United Way of King County, the organization also processed about $16 million in donations designated to other agencies.