By Todd Cohen
HIGH POINT, N.C. — Spurred by increases in workplace giving at big employers, and in larger gifts, United Way of Greater High Point raised $3.96 million in its 2004 annual drive, up 4 percent from the previous year and exceeding its goal by just over $10,000.
And counting losses because of corporate relocations, layoffs and closings that the drive offset, the increase from 2003 totaled 7 percent, says Michelle Caldwell, resource development director.
Twenty-two employers holding workplace campaigns before the public drive began September 15 raised $132,000 more than the previous year, an increase of 14 percent.
Bobby Smith, United Way president, says the biggest loss in dollars at any workplace campaign in 2004 totaled $14,000, compared to losses of well over $100,000 each at two workplace campaigns the previous year.
“It speaks to the strength of the local economy being better, and also good organization and follow-up on the part of volunteers,” he says. “Nothing fell through the cracks, and nothing fell apart.”
The early “pacesetter” campaigns, an effort chaired by High Point City Manager Strib Boynton, included the 2,200-employee City of High Point, which raised $221,000, up $29,000, and the 2,000-employee High Point Regional Health System, which raised $161,000, up $38,000.
The drive set the ambitious goal of raising $650,000 from “Tocqueville” donors giving at least $10,000, up $100,000 from 2003, by increasing the number of donors and the size of their gifts.
The effort exceeded its goal by $14,000, with the number of donors growing to 59 from 55, and their average gift growing to 11,250 from $10,000.
United Way does not yet have details on individual gifts from $1,000 to $9,999, but their total likely grew, Caldwell says.
In 2003, all gifts over $1,000 totaled over $1.2 million, or 32 percent of overall giving.
With leadership from David Congdon, CEO of Old Dominion Freight Lines, who talked to peers at other companies, United Way asked corporate CEO’s to ask employees to make larger gifts.
The Old Dominion campaign included 59 donors giving $1,000 or more, nearly double the number in 2002.
A continuing goal is to help people better understand and get involved with United Way, Smith says.
For the first time in several years, the 2004 kickoff included a “Day of Caring,” with employees of two-dozen companies volunteering at 30 sites, mainly for United Way’s 26 partner agencies.
United Way also aims to enlist more volunteers on its panels that review and make recommendations on funding requests from agencies.
Those panels, which begin working in March, last year included 110 volunteers, up from 60 the previous year.
United Way last year also teamed up with the High Point Chamber of Commerce and with Communities in Schools of High Point to enlist local businesses, religious congregations and other organizations to donate supplies to local schools through the countywide Fill the Bus initiative.
That effort enlisted 26 organizations that contributed $25,000 worth of supplies to 14 of the 17 Guilford County public schools in High Point, including $1,000 donated by United Way employees to Montlieu Elementary School.
“It all boils down to relationships and getting people involved with us,” Smith says.