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YWCA revives bottom line

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By Todd Cohen

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The YWCA of Central Carolinas is on the rebound.

Founded in 1902, the Y hit hard times a decade ago, says Jane McIntyre, a board member for seven years who became executive director in 2000.

“We were not making money and the picture was not good,” she says. “We thought at one point we would truly have to close the doors.”

Her first tasks were to restore order to the Y’s books and finances, and mend staff relations.

Rather than segregating gifts based on their purpose, for example, the Y was depositing all funds in a single account, causing confusion, McIntyre says.

Program directors were responsible for collecting fees but were not doing the job, she says, and staffers would not talk to one another.

“The organization was a very unhealthy organization,” says McIntyre, a former banker and director of special projects at the Carolinas HealthCare Foundation. “All business was conducted behind closed doors.”

So she and Cindy Wells, former external auditor for accounting firm Greer & Walker who joined the Y as chief financial officer the same week McIntyre was hired, segregated accounts and shifted fee collection to the finance department.

McIntyre instituted weekly meetings for administrators, and monthly meetings for all staff.

She also asked the Y’s four programs – early-childhood development, youth development, transitional housing for women and a fitness center – to develop plans to improve themselves.

And to plug a deficit in the $4 million budget that totaled $17,000 in February 2000 alone, she reached out to funders.

The efforts paid off.

An anonymous donor gave $1 million to renovate the first floor of the Y’s four-story building and revamp its fitness center, which had been closed for three years.

Churches, charities and government agencies gave $1.2 million to renovate 66 transitional-housing units for women.

And after considering a $5 million capital campaign, the Y launched a series of quiet drives.

Christ Episcopal Church pledged $300,000 as part of an effort to raise $900,000 to build eight to 10 units of transitional housing for families.

And Barbara Atkinson, a former United Way fundraiser and banker who joined the Y a year ago as director of development and marketing, raised $114,000 from 800 individual donors in the fiscal year ended June 30, plus $101,000 in pledges to be paid over four years.

Those donations nearly offset $260,000 in cuts from United Way of Central Carolinas and the state.

The Y has nearly doubled the number of children and women it served 10 years ago, and increased customers for its fitness center five-fold.

And last May, it launched a planned-giving effort that already has generated half-a-dozen provisions in wills and insurance policies that will be worth an estimated $100,000 on the donors’ deaths.

“I really want this organization,” McIntyre says, “to be one of the strongest and most well-run nonprofits in the region.”

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