Five United Way chapters in northern New Jersey Â Morris County, North Essex, Somerset County, Sussex County and Warren County Â will merge Jan. 3 following a year of talks on how to increase their fundraising, now a combined $15 million a year, and operate more efficiently in the face of a prolonged economic slowdown that has severely hurt many…
In a statement released exclusively to NJBIZ, the newly created United Way of Northern New Jersey said it doesnÂt expect the merger to prompt layoffs among the combined staff of 54 full- and part-time workers, who will instead be working even harder Âto compete effectively for the charitable dollar and provide adequate staffing for volunteer involvementÂ across the region.
John Franklin, previously CEO of the Morris County chapter, was named interim CEO of the UWNNJ during a national search for a permanent chief executive.
While the recession certainly played a role in the chaptersÂ decision to come together, Âwe began the discussion of merger long before the economy went the way it did,Â Franklin said, noting the five United Ways are among a group of 32 in the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area that began discussing consolidation about five years ago.
As a larger organization, Franklin said UWNNJ Âwill make the best use of our peopleÂ by eliminating administrative duplication and having staff members specialize in their areas of strength. And he said it will be easier for a larger United Way to Âattract higher-level board membersÂ to strengthen its cause.
Fundraising throughout the nonprofit sector is off during the recession; Franklin said the Morris chapterÂs campaign has been flat, raising about $6 million annually for each of the past three years. But he sees opportunity: ÂCorporate donations have been down, but not across the board; employee giving has been up, and individual giving has been up.Â He said the merger Âis a good model for the rest of the country, and itÂs nice to be at the forefront of this movement.Â
Phil Brown, president and CEO of Somerset County United Way, said the merger will provide a benefit to donors, as well, saying a larger United Way will be able to Âprovide a richer, more rewarding donor experience.
ÂBy working across county borders, United Way of Northern New Jersey expects to offer a near-seamless experience for corporate and workplace donors who previously needed to deal with multiple United Ways,Â Brown said.
UWNNJ said its goal for its first year is to increase its fundraising by 3 percent in 2011. Most donations to the nonprofitÂs chapters come from partnerships with employers, who raise money from their employees during annual workplace United Way campaigns.
The five United Ways currently fund 200 community service programs that address education, health, and income and financial stability. Cynthia Villarosa, executive director of United WayÂs North Essex chapter, said, ÂWe are convinced that by combining resources, professional expertise and experience, United Way of Northern New Jersey will be a stronger organization better equipped to address the needs of our local communities and throughout the region.Â
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