United Way shy of goal

By Todd Cohen

HIGH POINT, N.C. — With its fall drive still $300,000 short of its $4.1 million goal, United Way of Greater High Point aims to keep raising money through February.
“We certainly are not calling it quits,” says Bobby Smith, United Way president. “We still are shaking some trees and trying to go after some gifts, and are hopeful there might be some one-time-only gifts in the offing from individuals.”

Despite the impact of the grim economy, which Smith says is the worst he has seen in 20 years as a United Way executive, the drive showed some successes that nearly offset losses stemming from layoffs and the economic slump.

The drive, chaired by David Black, senior vice president for Wachovia, generated 55 gifts of $10,000 or more from individuals, the same number as last year, with 11 new donors replacing an equal number who did not renew their gifts this year.

Workplace campaigns also helped, Smith says, with 35 new campaigns generating nearly $100,000, and dozens of existing campaigns raising $300,000 more than they did a year earlier.

That included the City of High Point, which ran the largest campaign, raising more than $190,000, up 3 percent from the previous year, and Old Dominion Freight Lines, which posted the biggest increase, $30,000, for a total of nearly $169,000.

But the shift of 150 Sara Lee jobs to Winston-Salem, a move United Way had expected, and the loss of 100 jobs as part of the sale of GE Commercial Services, a move United Way had not expected, resulted in the loss of two campaigns that last year raised $100,000 each.

United Way last year also received $150,000 through one-time gifts from individuals who made them in the drive’s final days to help it meet its goal.

Smith saYS the 2004 drive, to be chaired by Gary Gore, High Point market president for Bank of America, will continue to focus on individual gifts of $10,000 or more; better market gifts between $1,000 and $10,000, which together account for roughly one-fifth of the drive; and try to make better inroads with retirees and self-employed professionals.

Smith also hopes to work with a foundation to develop a matching-gifts pool to help donors increase their annual giving to $10,000 over several years.

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