United Way regroups

By Todd Cohen

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — As it gears up for its annual fall campaign, the Triangle United Way has lost three of its top fundraising officers and is retooling its strategy, which will focus more on major gifts and on building relationships with corporate-giving officials.

Bill Shelp-Peck has resigned as senior vice president for resource development to pursue other United Way opportunities, says Craig Chancellor, United Way president and CEO.

John Chapin has resigned as director of major gifts to work as a consultant helping Hospice of Wake County prepare for a capital campaign.

And Terri Hegeman has resigned as director of leadership giving – gifts of $1,000 and more – to take a job in the office of university development at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a major gifts officer for the mid-Atlantic region.

Chapin says the departures were the result, at least in part, of low United Way salaries.

“Basically, the problem is that the United Way has promoted itself as a super low-cost way to raise money,” he says. “As a result, they don’t have the budget to pay competitive salaries to keep talented people there, so they’re constantly leaving.”

Salaries at the Triangle United Way rank in the lower half of the pay scale – ranging from the 25th to 50th percentiles, with 100th being the highest pay — among United Ways of comparable size, says Jill Cox, United Way communications director.

“We’re one of the lower-paying United Ways in terms of salaries because our focus has always been to put as much money as possible to work creating results in the community,” Cox says.

For the fall campaign, says Chancellor, who joined the United Way in January, he and George  Coates, the chief operating officer, will split the duties of the resource-development senior vice president.

Chancellor, who says he will not fill the resource-development job until the end of the year, will handle external relationships, working closely with campaign co-chairs Joan and Dennis Gillings, chairman of Quintiles Transnational in Research Triangle Park.

Coates will manage internal fundraising operations.

Chancellor has promoted Jay Walsh, a campaign associate, as vice president of major gifts. He will work with Ken O’Herron, principal of money-management firm O’Herron & Co., who is the campaign’s major gifts chair.

“That’s going to be very important because that’s got to be a growth area for our campaign,” says Chancellor. “There’s lots of potential out there that we’re not penetrating, and we need to.”

Gifts of $1,000 or more totaled $6.4 million last year, or nearly one-fourth of the nearly $26.2 million raised in the campaign.

Chancellor says he also plans to spend more time working to strengthen ties with corporation-contributions officers, who he says often have direct responsibility for company United Way campaigns.

“Those relationships are very important and we need to build those relationships,” he says.

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