Donations up

United Ways in North Carolina raised more in 2003. 

By Jennifer Whytock

RALEIGH, N.C. [05.12.04] — Local United Ways in North Carolina raised $136 million in 2003, up $2 million from 2002, but $11 million short of the record-high collected in 2000.

To help bring back donors and improve United Way’s public image, United Way of America is pushing state and local affiliates to work for policy change and help solve community problems.

For its policy focus, United Way of North Carolina aims to help local affiliates work to boost affordable housing and expand 2-1-1 phone service that provide human-service information and referrals, says Jim Morrison, executive director.

Fundraising results were mixed in 2003, with some affiliates raising more, some staying flat and some hitting record-highs.

United Way of Onslow County, for example, raised a record-high $462,000, up 21 percent from 2002, while the Transylvania County affiliate raised a record-high $303,582, up 21 percent.

Among the biggest affiliates, only United Way of Central Carolinas in Charlotte raised more in 2003 than in 2002, posting a record-high $37.4 million, up nearly two percent.

Some affiliates raised more because they focused on larger donations and their communities were not hurt as much by the economy as others, Morrison says.

But the economy hurt many drives, he says.

United Way of Greater High Point raised $3.8 million in 2003, down 5 percent, while the Pitt County affiliated raised $1.76 million, down 10 percent.

“The loss of jobs, especially in the manufacturing sector, such as the Pillowtex closure, affect local United Ways because they get their campaign funds directly from companies,” Morrison says. “They also are affected by ever increasing competition for charitable dollars because of the growing number of nonprofits.”

An encouraging sign, he says, was an increase in the size of the average gift at most local United Ways, although the total number of donors held steady or fell slightly.

United Way of North Carolina is launching a database affiliates can use to search all 100 counties for data on the economy, population, ethnicity and health indicators.

In addition, the state group recently re-launched a database that local United Ways and their agencies can use to find grantmakers that fund certain issues and subject areas.

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