Teamwork could form human services campus

July 30, 2013

Service organization AtWork! might team up with the Together Center to found a human services campus in the former’s existing facility.

In its effort to bring employment and community service agencies together, the Together Center, in Redmond, has had plans to established a location that could house multiple resources for all people. Housing, job placement and medical services are just a few of the things it hopes to bring into such a facility.

“We’ve been looking for property for years,” Together Center Executive Director Pam Mauk said. Though the two organizations have only been communicating for a few months, she said their common goals could mean cooperation. “We are both in discussions. The missions of AtWork! and Together Center could work together at that site.”

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Time runs out for end-of-year donations to nonprofit organizations

December 31, 2012

NEW — 2 p.m. Dec. 31, 2012

The need is up nonprofit organizations, but as donors start to make out checks for year-end donations, local organizations sometimes struggle to stand out in a field crowded with requests for giving.

In King County, end-of-year charitable giving to nonprofit organizations is on the to-do list for many donors. The average person makes 24 percent of annual donations between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, according to research from the Center on Philanthropy.

Issaquah and the Puget Sound region maintain a long-held reputation for generosity to charitable causes. The key for nonprofit organizations to successfully solicit donations, local leaders said, is to highlight successes.

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Site is eyed for Issaquah human services campus

July 31, 2012

The long-gestating plan to build a human services campus in Issaquah is a step closer to reality, as organizers inch closer to selecting a site for the facility.

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Together Center receives $35,420 grant for renovation

February 7, 2012

The Together Center in Redmond, which helps local residents, has received a grant of $35,420 from the Employees Community Fund of Boeing Puget Sound to support renovation of recently vacated space for use by nonprofit, direct-service agencies.

Previously, the center was the recipient of two $5,000 grants from the Microsoft Corp. and the Norman Archibald Charitable Foundation, while the Rotary Club of Redmond pitched in an additional $1,500.

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Local charities combat ‘compassion fatigue’ amid year-end giving

December 20, 2011

What to know

If you make a donation to a charity this year, you may be able to take a deduction on your tax return. In order to help taxpayers interested in making charitable donations — and tax deductions — the Internal Revenue Service offers the following tips:

Make sure the organization qualifies — Charitable contributions must be made to qualified organizations to be deductible. Find a list of qualified organizations in IRS Publication 78, Cumulative List of Organizations, at www.irs.gov.

What you can deduct — You can deduct your cash contributions and the fair market value of most property you donate to a qualified organization, but special rules apply to several types of donated property, including clothing or household items, cars and boats.

When you receive something in return — If your contribution entitles you to receive merchandise, goods or services in return — such as admission to a charity banquet or sporting event — you can deduct only the amount exceeding the fair market value of the benefit received.

How to keep records — Keep records of any contribution you make, regardless of the amount. For any cash contribution, you must maintain a record of the contribution, such as a cancelled check, bank or credit card statement, payroll deduction record or a written statement from the charity containing the date and amount of the contribution and the name of the organization.

Handling pledges and payments — Only contributions actually made during the tax year qualify as deductible. For example, if you pledged $500 in September but paid the charity only $200 by Dec. 31, you can only deduct $200.

Many legitimate charities use telemarketing, direct mail, email and online ads to ask for contributions. Unfortunately, scam artists also use the same techniques to defraud donors. If someone asks for a donation, take time to learn about the charity:

Ask for the charity’s name, address, phone number and written information about its programs.

Ask whether the person contacting you is a professional fundraiser and how much of your contribution is meant for fundraising costs.

Check the history of the organization with the Washington Secretary of State’s Office at www.sos.wa.gov.

Potential donors should also know the warning signs of a scam:

Reject high-pressure pitches, and remember: It’s OK to hang up.

Be skeptical of a thank-you message for a pledge you do not remember making.; scam artists will lie to get your money.

Avoid giving cash donations.

Avoid charities offering to send a courier or overnight delivery service to collect money.

Avoid charities guaranteeing sweepstakes winnings in exchange for a contribution.

Avoid charities forming overnight, especially in the aftermath of natural disasters, or claim to be for police officers, veterans or firefighters.

Source: Federal Trade Commission

The year is almost over, and unending calls, email and mailers requesting donations pour in at the same pace as Christmas cards.

The need is up for local human services organizations and other nonprofit groups, but as the economy remains anemic, leaders at such organizations raised concerns about “compassion fatigue” — a drop-off in chartable donations due to overexposure to calls for aid.

Issaquah and, indeed, the entire Puget Sound region maintain a long-held reputation for generosity to charitable causes. However, compassion fatigue is acute, especially as local organizations assist more people amid the economic downturn and groups face the ever-present prospect of additional cuts as local and state governments trim spending.

“Where does the fatigue come from? I think it comes from the number of people asking in a noncoordinated fashion that are all trying different strategies,” said Jared Erlandson, public relations manager for United Way of King County.

Timing is another factor. The entreaties from nonprofit organizations come amid the holiday season, as people juggle commitments.

“Our experience is that people give at the end of the year,” Together Center Executive Director Pam Mauk said. “That’s when they think about it. That’s when they want to give.”

(The nonprofit Together Center, a human services campus in Redmond, serves clients from Issaquah and elsewhere on the Eastside.)

But the deluge from numerous nonprofit organizations can sometimes turn off potential donors.

“People are indeed swamped by the requests and probably aren’t appreciative of all the requests that they’re getting,” Mauk said.

Organizations also need to offer a compelling message to donate in order to cut through the clutter to reach potential donors.

“You can’t be saying the same thing every time,” Erlandson said. “If you’re always saying, ‘The sky is falling. Things are worse now than they’ve ever been. The need is greater.’ Those are the kind of catchphrases that, I think cause compassion fatigue.”

Still, the limping economy has created a greater need and especially a temporary need for people slow to rebound after job losses or other setbacks.

“We all know somebody who needs a hand right now and may not a month from now,” Erlandson said.

Though donations spike in the aftermath of major tragedies, such as the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina, giving is sometimes tougher for organizations addressing ongoing issues, such as homelessness and poverty.

“We know that people in a huge, epic disaster don’t even think twice. It’s like, ‘Oh my gosh, Katrina, where’s my checkbook?’” Erlandson said. “Those kinds of donations are over and above their normal giving.”

Claire Petersky, executive director of Sammamish-based Eastside Friends of Seniors, said showing potential donors how funding is used is important.

“Whether you are donating or whether you are volunteering, I think if you see a visible change in somebody else’s life, then you have a feeling that this isn’t like a never-ending pit of need,” she said.

The solution for Eastside Friends of Seniors is to send regular updates to donors about how donations assist the organization’s mission to aid local senior citizens. Petersky said a board member even joined the organization after reading about Eastside Friends of Seniors’ accomplishments in a message sent to donors and volunteers.

“I know I made a difference in that person’s life. I think that that gives a sense of accomplishment and helps overcome that sensation of being overwhelmed,” Petersky said.

(The organization changed names from Faith in Action to Eastside Friends of Seniors in late September.)

Contact between organizations and donors throughout the year is essential, too, leaders at local nonprofit groups said.

“If people see, here’s my 50 bucks, here’s my 100 bucks and they never hear back from you, they never see any result, they don’t know what that donation accomplished, it’s going to really compile for next year or later on this year when you go back to ask these people,” Erlandson said. “So, for us, a key is showing results.”

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

YWCA Family Village at Issaquah opens

August 16, 2011

Lizzie Webb stands aside the railing to top-floor residences at her apartment building looking over the YWCA Family Village at Issaquah and a view of Squak and Cougar mountains. By Greg Farrar

The airy apartment on the top floor at YWCA Family Village at Issaquah, a long-planned affordable housing complex, is a refuge for Lizzie Webb.

The longtime Issaquah resident relocated to the complex before anyone else, in late May, and created a sanctuary from domestic abuse in the cozy space.

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Supporters outline future for human services campus

April 5, 2011

The push to select a location and raise dollars to build a long-planned human services campus in Issaquah — envisioned as a clearinghouse for employment assistance, food aid, health care and more — should start in earnest this spring and summer after years spent on discussions and studies.

Organizers plan to launch a fundraising campaign for the campus, identify anchor tenants and, most critically, select property or a building to house the facility.

John Rittenhouse

The result could resemble the nonprofit Together Center, a similar campus in Redmond. In 2007, Issaquah leaders and the Together Center — then called the Family Resource Center — partnered to spearhead a feasibility study for a campus in Issaquah.

Together Center Executive Director Pam Mauk and John Rittenhouse, a former Issaquah councilman and a Together Center board member, presented the study to City Council members March 29.

“So, what does the study conclude?” Rittenhouse asked. “It concludes that a human services campus being sited in Issaquah is feasible. Under all scenarios that were studied by the consultants, a campus is doable in Issaquah.”

Plans for the campus hinge on the location, and whether organizers opt to build a campus or lease space in existing structures.

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Issaquah residents use human services campus

November 16, 2010

Together Center — a human services campus in Redmond — served more than 67,000 people last year, including 1,186 Issaquah residents. The campus, formerly known as the Family Resource Center, also served 762 people from Sammamish.

Overall, the number of people using the services at the campus jumped from 42,000 in 2009. The campus serves as a source for food, shelter, medical and dental care, and youth and family counseling. Read more

Development of Issaquah human services campus inches forward

March 22, 2010

NEW — 4:45 p.m. March 22, 2010

Issaquah stands a step closer to opening a human services campus, after a Redmond nonprofit completed a city-funded survey to gauge interest in a campus.

Family Resource Center officials announced the completion of the survey Monday. The nonprofit surveyed 50 organizations; 25 responded and 14 respondents indicated interest in participating in the Issaquah campus.

Officials envision the campus as a clearinghouse where needy people can receive food, healthcare and employment, in a place where several organizations share campus space. Family Resource Center pioneered the model in Redmond 20 years ago.

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Council OKs human services campus study

December 20, 2009

NEW — 6 a.m. Dec. 20, 2009

A clearinghouse where people in need can receive food, healthcare and employment is a step closer to reality for Issaquah.

Officials hired nonprofit Family Resource Center, of Redmond, to locate a suitable site for a human services campus, engage in business planning and provide legal assistance. City Council members approved the $35,000 pact in a unanimous vote Dec. 7.

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