United Way of Greater Union County Finds Success in Online Giving Community

United Way of Greater Union County Finds Success in Online Giving Community

Elizabeth, NJ - Every year, more than 200,000 people receive a form of help from the United Way of Greater Union County.

But when the COVID-19 pandemic devastated the world, the need increased tremendously, and a significant number of families struggles to meet basic needs in our community. In Union County, the unemployment rate jumped from 4.5% in January 2020 to 16.4% in June 2020. The statistics were heartbreaking: 

  • 81,000 unemployed residents
  • 3,100 evictions filed
  • 9,000 SNAP (food stamp) applications were filed

At the same time, UWGUC's traditional, in-person fundraising techniques were almost impossible. 

“In my 17 years with the United Way Organization, never could I imagine the challenges fundraising faced during the Covid pandemic,” former UWGUC CEO James Horne said.

But the non-profit rose to the challenge.

“When United Way National asked leaders to think about ways to diversify fundraising to offset declines in donations, I began to research online fundraising and immediately became interested in creating better donor relationships and tap into the reach online giving strategies provide,” Horne added. 

UWGUC called on community partners to turn to online giving, find creative ways to drive donors to the website and put in place strategic marketing campaigns.

Horne contracted MP Strategic Marketing to implement UWGUC strategic marketing strategies with an objective to increase online donations.

The call worked. 

For example, New Jersey American Water employees launched its United Way fundraising campaign with virtual fundraising events including a 5K Turkey Trot, an online auction, other fun events along with financial donations.  Employees ended up raising over $26,000, with an additional donation of $15,000 from the company.  The funds were split among eight United Way chapters (including UWGUC). 

The UWGUC 2020 virtual ‘Stuff the Bus’ campaign was also a huge online success.  By partnering with YouGiveGoods, donors were able to follow a link to purchase backpacks and school supplies. This is one of the most popular campaigns of the year which provides new school supplies to children living in Union County, North Plainfield, and South Plainfield.  


Online Giving Is Growing

With the development in social media and crowdsourcing, online giving is growing and doesn’t look like it’s going to stop.  “In 2020, online giving increased by 23%,” according to Donorbox.org. “Online monthly giving revenue grew by 40% as recurring donations became increasingly popular with online donors.”

The Blackbaud Institute found in 2020, small nonprofits grew their digital fundraising programs with 17.8% of their total fundraising coming from online giving.  In 2021, medium-sized organizations saw it grow to 11.3%, and larger nonprofits at 11.1%.


UWGUC Strengthening Online Presence

Now, as a sense of normalcy is starting to come back for many communities, UWGUC is committed to strengthening its online presence.  This includes:

  • A stronger social media presence
  • Increasing accessibility to give through your mobile device.
  • Increasing online awareness for donation campaigns and charitable events.

“Since we started testing online campaigns to drive awareness to online giving, the results have truly been positive and I am excited about building better donor relationships and increasing the total number of donors for UWGUC,” UWGUC development manager Raven Moreno said. 

While traditional fundraising campaigns will always be vital, the past two years have shown the non-profit that a wider audience can be reached online.

This can only strengthen UWGUC’s mission to strengthen its numerous programs for children and families in need.