Teaming up

By Todd Cohen

RALEIGH, N.C. — In a move that could prompt further consolidation and even a merger, the three Red Cross chapters in the Triangle plan to hire a major gifts officer who will launch an effort to raise nearly $500,000 in the next three years to benefit all three chapters.

The new position, which the chapters aim to fill by March, will be funded over three years with a $100,000 grant from the A.J. Fletcher Foundation and, in the first year, with just over $7,500 from each of the three chapters and from the Red Cross’ Raleigh-based Mid-Atlantic Service Area.

The new officer would generate new major gifts totaling $50,000 by June 2006, another $125,000 by June 2007 and another $312,500 by June 2008, according to a plan prepared by the three chapters.

The new officer would report to Barry Porter, executive director of the Raleigh-based Triangle Area Chapter, which is the largest of the three and serves a population of 915,000 in Wake, Franklin, Johnston and Warren counties.

Working with each chapter, the new officer would receive support and direction from a campaign cabinet that would help identify, cultivate, solicit and work with donors and prospects, and from an oversight committee that would monitor the major-gifts effort and look for other ways the chapters might work together.

The joint effort, which aims to create opportunities for new and larger donations and lay the groundwork for additional partnerships, is part of a push by the American Red Cross to encourage local chapters to collaborate on functions such as fundraising, accounting and other back-office services.

The major-gift initiative “should be a model to which other chapters can aspire,” says Jane Gilbert, executive of the Mid-Atlantic Service Area, which represents local chapters in six states and the District of Columbia to the national organization.

While each of the three chapters operates and raises money on its own, people living in the nine counties they serve “perceive us as a single operating entity,” their major-gifts plan says.

“The public doesn’t see any jurisdictional boundaries,” Porter says. “They see the Red Cross emblem.”

With each chapter responsible for delivering its own services, running its own operations and meeting its own budget, he says, developing trust between the organizations will be a big challenge.

“You can trust us and we can trust you, and we’ll all share happily in the successes,” he says. “The hardest part is people sharing dollars across jurisdictional lines.”

The major-gifts partnership, the result of three months of work by a team formed by the boards of all three chapters, grew out of a suggestion by Barbara Goodmon, president of the A.J. Fletcher Foundation in Raleigh, after the Triangle Area Chapter had approached the foundation about funding a fundraising position, Porter says.

“She wanted to talk about collaborative efforts and regionalization,” he says.

The Durham-based Central North Carolina Chapter serves a population of 372,000 in Durham, Granville, Person and Vance counties, while the Chapel Hill-based Orange County Chapter serves a population of 125,000 in that county.

In the fiscal year ended June 30, 2004, the three chapters combined responded to more than 350 single-family fires that left more than 1,000 people homeless, assisted more than 2,000 military families with emergency communications and other services, trained more than 26,000 people in First Aid and CPR, enrolled nearly 13,000 individuals in swimming lessons and other water-safety courses, and conducted and supported the collection of blood that resulted in more than 75,000 blood donations for hospital patients.

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