United Way gears up – Drives begin in September

By Todd Cohen

United Way affiliates in the Triad are getting ready to launch their annual fall fundraising campaigns.

While goals won’t be set until later this month, United Way officials expect to raise more than they did last year.

The United Way of Forsyth County probably will set a goal of $17.8 million to $18 million, up from the $16.7 million raised in 1999, says Ron Drago, the affiliate’s president.

This year’s campaign will get an unusual kickoff – literally. The drive will begin during the Wake ForestUNC football game on Sept. 9.

“It’s as big an audience as we’re going to get in this town,” Drago says.

The United Way this year aims to do a better job of letting donors know they can make their contributions through the organization’s “community care fund.”

Contributions that donors don’t designate for any of the United Way’s 37 member agencies go into the fund, which last year received 80 percent of all contributions.

In recent years, however, the share of contributions going to that general fund has declined by a percentage point or two each year, Drago says.

The fund, he says, “really represents the way most people would choose to make sense of the great diversity and complexity of social service agencies that are part of the United Way system and the complex needs that are out there.”

Greg Beier, Triad Region president for Novant Health, is this year’s campaign chair.

The campaign goal for the United Way of Greater Greensboro will be at least 5 percent more than the nearly $14.5 million that was raised last year, says Neil Belenky, United Way president.

This fall’s campaign will be the first in which donors can designate that their contributions go to new goal areas developed by the United Way. In addition, 25 percent of growth in United Way funding this year will support two of those new goal areas — helping youngsters succeed in school, and preparing individuals to get and keep good jobs.

Charles McQueary, president of General Dynamics Advanced Technology Systems, is chair of this year’s campaign, which will kick off Sept. 19 at noon at the Greensboro Coliseum Special Events Center.

The United Way of Greater High Point expects to set a higher goal this year than the record-high $4.4 million raised last year, says Aleisha Cooley, director of resource development.

But she says the size of the increase may not match the 14 percent growth achieved last year or the record-high 18 percent increase in 1998.

A lot of focus this year will be on “leadership” gifts of $1,000 or more, she says. Last year, leadership gifts totaled 600, up from 460 a year earlier, and accounted for 30 percent of the campaign.

Chair of this year’s campaign, which kicks off Sept. 6 at noon at the High Point Country Club, is Michael Amos, owner of Amos-Brown Enterprises, a real estate development firm.

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