United Way tries TV

By Jennifer Whytock

For the first time ever, United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County will use television advertising as part of its annual fund drive.

Ads started Oct. 6 and will run for three weeks in an effort to help reach the record-high goal of $5,454,000, a 1 percent increase over the 2002 goal, says David Bonyun, communications director.

Last year, United Way surpassed its goal of $5,405,222 by $1,700.

Corporate donations, not money raised in the drive, will pay for the ads, which will include on-air recognition for corporate sponsors.

The drive, launched Sept. 11 as part of United Way’s “Day of Caring” volunteer program, has raised $1.25 million, or nearly one-fourth of its goal.

The drive is focusing on donations from small businesses, retirees and health-care companies.

“Healthcare is doing significantly better this year,” says Bonyun. “Although we have faced challenges in the manufacturing sector, we continue to see strong support.”

While Buncombe County has been spared the number of textile and manufacturing layoffs that other North Carolina counties have suffered, the drive still could feel the fallout of weakness in those industries, says Bonyun.

“This year, its going to be a struggle to raise the money needed to fund our county’s nonprofits agencies,” Don Reed, managing director of Northwestern Mutual Financial Network, says in a statement.

Reed and his wife, Charlie, a long-term care specialist at Northwestern Mutual, co-chair this year’s drive.

The drive aims to increase donations of $1,000 or more to 35.1 percent of total giving, one percent more than last year.

In the last 10 years, the percentage of these large donations has doubled.

Mission St. Joseph’s Health System, which raised $411,000 in 2002, the largest workplace drive, aims to raise $425,000 this year.

United Way plans to maintain its media coverage throughout the year so it will be in the public’s mind continuously, not just during drive.

The media strategy will include billboard signs and 12 half-hour TV shows on public access stations highlighting how United Way’s 36 agencies use the money raised and the difference that donations make.

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