By Todd Cohen
RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Beating its goal and last year’s total, Triangle United Way raised more than $11.2 million in undesignated gifts for its general “community care fund” in this year’s drive, plus another $7.2 million that donors designated for specific causes.
The community care fund exceeded its goal by nearly $20,000 and last year’s total by $600,000, while the overall drive, which had no goal, exceeded last year’s total by $385,000.
The community care fund met its goal for the first time since United Way in 2002 shifted its focus to raising undesignated contributions, while the overall drive met its goal for the first time since 2000.
“We’re finally talking the message much more clearly,” says Sarah Smith, vice president of resource development. “People are finally starting to hear it.”
In the drive, chaired by Bob Greczyn, president and CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, the community care fund received just over 61 percent of overall giving, up from nearly 59 percent last year.
While United Way does not yet know whether it met its goal of raising $200,000 in new dollars, Blue Cross and three other companies provided $40,000 to match $4 for every $1 donated through new workplace drives or at companies giving $250 for the first time.
Blue Cross provided $25,000 in matching funds, while Raytheon-JPS Communications, Network Appliances and an anonymous firm each provided $5,000.
IBM turned in the biggest drive, with employee contributions growing to just over $3 million, up $100,000 from last year, and its corporate gift growing to $532,000, up $12,000.
United Way also does not yet know whether it met its goal of raising $1.4 million from donors giving $10,000 or more, up from $1 million last year, but it did enlist at least 13 new donors who gave at that level, Smith says.
And giving surged at two companies that sponsored tours that took their executives to visit agencies supported by the community care fund, Smith says.
Giving by Triangle employees at Blue Cross grew to $522,000 from $434,000, for example, and its corporate gift grew to $137,500 from $110,000, while giving by employees at Capitol Broadcasting Co. grew to $127,000 from $96,000, and its corporate gift grew to $64,000 from $47,500.
At Blue Cross, 127 Triangle employees made “leadership” gifts of $1,200 or more totaling just over $313,000, up from $248,000 contributed last year by 117 employees making gifts that size, says Ronda Barnes, Blue Cross’ manager for community relations who served as the insurer’s employee campaign manager.
At Capitol Broadcasting, 56 employees made leadership gifts totaling nearly $88,000, up from 39 who gave nearly $60,000 last year.
A new workplace campaign was held at Inspire Pharmaceuticals as a result of a partnership with the Council for Entrepreneurial Development that aimed to enlist new companies in the drive.
Another goal, to recruit more African-American donors throughout the Triangle, was chaired by consultant James Stewart of Durham and his wife, lawyer Frances Dyer, and enlisted volunteer leaders in Orange and Wake counties, Smith says, although results are not yet available.
The community care fund also netted at least $65,000 from the Old Reliable Run, a 10K event formerly organized by The News & Observer that now benefits United Way and was sponsored this year by Blue Cross.
Chairing next year’s drive will be Orage Quarles, publisher of The News & Observer.