Plaid not a must to raise $36M – but it helps

By United Way of King County Posted on August 9, 2019 In News

Innovative. Creative. Smart. All words Jonathan Sposato and Heather Lowenthal used a year ago to answer the question “why United Way?”. 

They had set out to chair the multi-million dollar fundraising campaign and were talking to their friends and network about the opportunity. 

One year – and $36M later – we’re using similar words to describe their total commitment to the campaign. This is a volunteer gig – but it is in no way “one and done”. It involves so many companies and individuals coming together to make a difference: nearly 300 United Way Champions giving $10,000+, dozens of companies sponsoring signature events like the Community Resource Exchange—and monthly and one-time donors who are moved by the stories of people being helped. Jonathan and Heather put in just as many hours as staff – and made evening and weekend commitments look like a breeze.

Jonathan and Heather at the United Way Champions Celebration

The whole family volunteering on MLK Day

How do we reflect on their time with us?

Amazing. Fearless. Game changing. All words we use to describe what they’ve done for the community. 

Amazing. Seriously, Jonathan can captivate a group of Emerging Leaders like no other. He helped us launch Emerging Leaders 365 – where young professionals donate a dollar a day to make an impact. Hundreds of people stepped up—and as a group, raised more than $430K.

Fearless. Because they feel so strongly about community and fighting homelessness, Heather and Jonathan were talking to anyone who would listen about how impressed they’ve been by the innovative programs that are helping thousands of people move out of homelessness like Streets to Home and Jobs Connect. Heather hosted several dinner parties where donors could take a deep dive on issues and learn from experts about what is working with community investments—and what isn’t. They opened their home to hundreds of people in their network and partnered with us at the Geekwire Bash.

Game Changing. The Seattle Mariners came to us with a catalytic gift or $3M to focus on eviction prevention and Jonathan and Heather didn’t miss a beat. Before you knew it, they helped double that number. We’re now in full partnership with the Seattle Mariners, King County Bar Association, Urban League and Wellspring helping families stay in their homes. Microsoft has since made a title-sponsor gift of $5M and we’ve already served more than 200 families.

And we have to add ‘Best Dressed’. We don’t mean ‘pulled together’, ‘professional’ or warranting a ‘you look nice’. Of course there’s that. We mean flair. Both Jonathan and Heather brought their best fashion game to the party. Part of the fun of having Jonathan speak at an event was never knowing what he’d show up in. From one-piece jumpsuits to plaid pants to vintage wool sweaters in the summer – you just never knew. But you always knew he’d command the room with his passion for the issue.

They’ll both tell you that the campaign would not have been successful without strong partnerships with the likes of Microsoft, The Boeing Company, Nordstrom, Farmer’s Life Insurance Company, Wells Fargo, Lakeside Industries, Costco, Weyerhaeuser and many others.

That’s very true—but good results and good people are what attract the attention of good companies. And Jonathan and Heather are certainly good people.   



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