The donations came from all of the traditional donor bases, including individuals, other organizations and annual workplace employee campaigns. There was also a large single gift to United Way's endowment fund, Lickel said.
According to United Way, the number of workplace donors grew by 10% this past year.
"Given the current economic climate, this says a lot about the people in Orange County," said Kathleen Freed, a spokeswoman for United Way. "They are incredibly generous."
The funds will be distributed to myriad human service and community-based organizations, among them the Boys and Girls Clubs in Orange County, the CSP Youth Shelter in Laguna Beach and Laura's House, a shelter for victims of domestic violence run by a nonprofit based in Ladera Ranch.
"United Way has been a huge benefit to our programs and our ability to provide shelter and services to victims of domestic violence, especially in light of state cutbacks," said Karen Stine, the contracts administrator who manages the grants for Laura's House, which was established in 1994.
Stine said the state has cut back $220,000 annually in human services money for Laura's House, and that impact was felt last July, when the cuts began.
United Way is giving the women and children's shelter $50,000.
Maria Chavez Wilcox, president and chief executive of Orange County United Way, said she was happy with the fundraising results, to say the least.
"The response … to help those less fortunate is nothing short of awe-inspiring," she said. "Their heartwarming generosity at a time of continued economic difficulty speaks volumes about their kindness and compassion."
To find out more about Orange County United Way, go to http://www.unitedwayoc.org.