The Seattle Times raised more than $2 million in its record-breaking 41st Fund For The Needy campaign to support nonprofits in the Puget Sound region.
The holiday fund received more than 3,500 contributions, ranging from a group in Seattle’s Phinney Ridge and Greenwood neighborhoods that went caroling to raise money to readers who donated as holiday gifts to loved ones.
The fund received an exceptionally large donation of $500,000, left by a reader in her will. But the total was propelled mostly by smaller amounts, including a gift of $1.70, and one of $15 from a Seattle 9-year-old who, along with his mother, read all The Times’ stories about the 12 nonprofits the fund benefits.
“So I heard that you are trying to raise two million dollars this year,” Tommy wrote in a letter to The Times. “Me and my mom are going to help you a little bit.”
The fund raised $2,017,389 overall — including gifts from Seattle Times partners Argosy Cruises, Pacific Northwest Ballet and Jet City Improv — bringing the total raised since the Fund For The Needy’s inception to about $27 million. The funds go directly to the nonprofits, as The Times covers all administrative costs.
“I am incredibly grateful to our readers and everyone at The Times who helped us surpass our $2 million goal. This is a record amount raised,” said Seattle Times President Alan Fisco. “It is so gratifying to see the community rally in support of the wonderful work being done at our participating agencies.”
The nonprofits fill a variety of needs in the Puget Sound region, from providing food and shelter to families facing homelessness to supporting children in the foster-care system. Along with the tangible items, the nonprofits’ volunteers and staff give emotional support to those they serve, bringing giggles out of children experiencing post-traumatic stress and company to seniors living alone.
Readers gave not only to the fund but also directly to the nonprofits, which experienced spikes in philanthropy this holiday season.
Kent Youth and Family Services saw an increase in donations specifically for Watson Manor, its apartment building for young mothers and children who would otherwise be homeless, which The Times wrote about in December. Some donors told the nonprofit they were inspired to give after reading the story.
Readers moved by Fund For The Needy stories also helped Kindering see a 45% increase in year-end giving from the previous year. Sound Generations saw a similar jump, which allowed it to trim its Meals on Wheels waitlist from 204 people to 153. Childhaven said about 20 donors said they decided to give after reading a Fund For The Needy article.
The kindness of readers has also gone beyond monetary gifts. One sent a card of encouragement to a Seattle father of two after reading in The Times that the man attends a job-readiness course at Asian Counseling and Referral Service (ACRS) after working an overnight janitorial shift. He received the card at graduation and beamed, according to the nonprofit’s newsletter.
Some readers, like Tommy and his mother Lisa Chang, are also hoping to volunteer with nonprofits they’ve read about in The Times. Chang contacted ACRS to ask about any volunteer opportunities for them.
This was the second year that they read every Fund For The Needy story together and each contributed to the fund. They took turns reading paragraphs to develop Tommy’s reading skills.
“I feel like it’s a really great way for both him and me to become a little more connected and engaged in our community,” Chang said.