The local United Way's most recent fundraising drive raised $39 million, increasing for the first time since a scandal hit the organization nearly four years ago.
Officials of the United Way of the National Capital Area said they were pleased with the 2 percent increase, especially because it was driven by pledges from Washington area corporations.
"That's clearly the key to our future," said Charles W. Anderson, chief executive of the local United Way.
Donations from the area's private sector climbed 10 percent, to $21.8 million in the campaign, which ran from July 2004 to July. Donations that came via the Combined Federal Campaign, a separate fundraising effort among federal employees, fell 7.8 percent to $17.3 million.
Since the scandal that decimated the organization's fundraising, the United Way has cut costs and restructured to adjust to its smaller size. It closed its Prince George's and Arlington county offices and plans to combine its Loudoun and Prince William county offices next year. Last week, it moved its headquarters to the Board of Trade building on I Street NW after leasing its Southwest Washington headquarters building to the D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles.
And, in the upcoming campaign, it plans to increase its fundraising fee -- which it withholds from donations -- to cover its expenses. Officials said they slashed administrative costs 40 percent in recent years but campaign totals fell even more.
The fee for the fundraising drive will rise from 10 percent of a donation to 11 percent for Combined Federal Campaign donations and 12.5 percent for its private-sector campaign donations.
At its peak in 2001, the United Way raised $93 million, before scandals nearly ruined the organization when corporations pulled out and it was forced to give up its contract to run the Combined Federal Campaign.
A former chief executive, Oral Suer, is serving 27 months in prison for stealing almost $500,000 from the charity.