United Way sticks to basics

By Todd Cohen

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — After missing last year’s goal by nearly 6 percent, United Way of Central Carolinas is keeping to its strategy of reaching new donors, seeking larger gifts and focusing on its impact.

Its annual drive, chaired by Mary T. Mack, senior vice president at Wachovia, aims to raise $37.4 million, up 1.8 percent from last year’s total.

To emphasize its community impact, United Way this year replaced its big kickoff event with volunteer projects to spotlight priority needs supported by its general “community care” fund.

“United Way is more than a fundraiser and we’re out doing good things in the community every day,” says Diane Wright, vice president for marketing.

While it fell short of its overall goal, United Way last year raised $1 million more for its community care fund than a year earlier.

Gifts of $1,000 or more, accounting for nearly half last year’s total, will get a big push.

Graham W. Denton Jr., president of the Charlotte market for Bank of America, chairs an effort to build on the base of 27 donors who last year gave $25,000 or more.

United Way also is expanding initiatives launched in the late 1990s to reach more women and blacks.

Bank of America, First Citizens and Wachovia each is sponsoring an event for women donors, and United Way hopes to raise more than $3.9 million from women giving $1,000 or more, up from $3.7 million last year.

United Way also hopes to raise $750,000 from African Americans giving $1,000 or more, up from $703,000 last year, and plans to reach more black professional athletes and churches.

And United Way is targeting lawyers and physicians for gifts of $1,000 or more, and will encourage small businesses to get involved.

Wachovia employees who work with small business, for example, are helping United Way develop a direct-mail campaign to reach that market.

And Concord Mills has scheduled a United Way day for Aug. 23, with 14 stores agreeing to donate a percentage of sales that day to United Way.

At least 14 companies have agreed to match employee gifts.

To encourage bigger gifts, Wachovia has pledged $250,000 and will make contributions to the community care fund equal both to first-time gifts of $1,000 or more, and to increases by donors who gave at least $1,000 last year.

And for donors who agree to increase their giving to $10,000 over three years, Wachovia will contribute an amount equal to the difference between $10,000 and the total the donors give this year.

To better serve the rapidly growing population of North Mecklenburg County that includes Cornelius, Davidson and Huntersville, United Way has expanded and renamed its Mooresville-South Iredell United Way, which now will be the Mooresville-Lake Norman United Way.

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