United Way on move

By Todd Cohen

HIGH POINT, N.C. — After meeting the $4.3 million goal for its annual fund drive last year, the United Way of Greater High Point is gearing up for this fall’s drive with new leaders who want to get back to basics.

The new executive director and campaign chair plan to promote the community impact of the United Way’s 27 member agencies, and enlist more loaned executives to handle workplace campaigns.

“Every so often, you really need to reengage your audience, on both sides, donors and recipients, so they understand why it is important to give to United Way,” says David Black, senior vice president for Wachovia and the 2003 campaign chair.

The focus on impact reflects the United Way’s replacement of undesignated gifts to agencies with funding for programs serving four broad goals – healthy individuals, independent and self-sufficient people, safe neighborhoods and thriving children and families.

Bobby Smith, who in January succeeded Claudia Stowers as United Way president, wants to enlist 40 to 50 loaned executives, up from 20 last year, to boost workplace drives at small and mid-sized employers and reach more professionals, retirees and individuals.

“That’s where the greatest opportunity exists,” says Smith, who previously headed the Cape Fear Area United Way in Wilmington and the annual drive for the United Way of Greater Greensboro. “To reach those markets, you just need more loaned employees.”

He also wants to target outlying geographic markets, generate more larger gifts, increase support from outside the community and continue to streamline operations.

The United Way, for example, will target the Piedmont Center in North High Point and recruit board members from Jamestown and from Archdale and Trinity in Randolph County.

Big gifts, which fell last year but still earned High Point three national awards for United Ways serving 100,000 to 200,000 people, will continue to get a big push, says Maggie Bowen, campaign and major gifts manager.

In the face of the stalled economy, the United Way last year received $1.1 million through 55 gifts of $10,000 or more, down from $3.1 million a year earlier through 70 gifts that size.

Smith also wants to double to 600 from 300 the number of booster seats donated by Ford Motor Co. in a national partnership with local United Ways, and increase Bank of America support for the Success by Six early-childhood initiative.

To streamline operations, the United Way in 2001 teamed up with five United Ways in the Midwest to form the United Way Processing Information Center, or UWPIC.

The new entity scans pledge cards for all six United Ways and plans to handle other financial-reporting and pledge-processing tasks.

Cost savings have enabled High Point’s United Way to halve its finance department to two staffers, and may help it eliminate the need for temporary staff during the annual drive, says Betsy Lowder, chief financial officer.

The United Way also has hired Michelle Caldwell, former campaign division director for the United Way of Forsyth County, as director of resource development.

Caldwell, who will plan, organize, carry out and manage the campaign, and recruit, train and direct volunteers, succeeds Patty Mead, who left in December to become director of development for Senior Services of Forsyth County in Winston-Salem.

At Forsyth’s United Way, Caldwell managed workplace-giving accounts, including Sara Lee, Krispy Kreme, Flow Automotive, Johnson Controls and Pepsi, that raised $4 million.

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