Bob Nelkin got right to the heart of the issue. "It says something special about Pittsburgh."
Nelkin is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the United Way of Allegheny County, and on Thursday he was at a luncheon in Downtown Pittsburgh attended by some 500 people and talking about the agency being able to have its best year since 2003. Charitable contributions were up by $1 million this year, which meant the United Way of Allegheny County raised some $31.8 million in 2010 to fund local social agencies and programs.
Steelers President Art Rooney II serves as the Chairman of the Board of the United Way of Allegheny County, and he also was gratified with the results.
"I am very pleased with the results of the 2010 United Way Campaign. Our Campaign Chair, Pat Hassey and his Campaign Cabinet did an outstanding job. We were also very fortunate to have Dave Roderick come back to help Chair our 25th Tocqueville Society Campaign, which resulted in 78 new Tocqueville Society members. We had a great team working on this year's campaign, and the community responded with a record number of contributions. I just want to thank everyone for their outstanding support of our United Way."
The Tocqueville Society is made up of members who contribute $10,000 or more annually to the United Way, and Roderick increased membership by a record 78 for 2010. For his efforts, Roderick, the former CEO of U.S . Steel, received the Volunteer of the Year Award from the United Way for his efforts.
Hassey, the recently retired CEO of Allegheny Technologies Incorporated, headed up the United Way's capital campaign, which began on Sept. 2 and concluded on April 30. More than 60,000 people took part in the fundraising campaign, and the agency added more than two dozen new workplace drives last year to spur the boost in contributions.
Rooney also praised Nelkin's efforts in tightening the operating costs, a practice that effectively increases the amount of money received by the programs. In 2002, operating costs were 18.7 percent, but those had been trimmed to 12 percent by 2010.
"(The United Way board) is proud of the efficiency we've been able to bring to our operations," said Rooney. "Bob Nelkin makes sure that we operate as efficiently as possible and that then makes sure the dollars that are donated, the maximum amount, get to our agencies."
This good news comes at a time when worries increase about cuts in government funding to social programs. The local United Way leaders will be backing lobbying efforts to hold off cuts, especially to programs such as all-day kindergarten and early childhood education. A joint partnership with the Pittsburgh Foundation and some 100 other nonprofits called Why Cut What Works? is leading those efforts.
"As government at the state and federal and local levels shrinks and contracts, I think more than ever a strong United Way is needed," said Nelkin.