Looking ahead

By Todd Cohen

United Ways in Greensboro and Winston-Salem raised more money in 2004, and are preparing to revamp the way they address community needs, and measure and communicate their impact.

United Way of Forsyth County raised nearly $16.36 million, $164,000 more than in 2003, but $136,000 less than its goal.

United Way of Greater Greensboro raised just over $13 million, exceeding its goal by $560,000 and reversing three straight years of declines.

Employees giving at workplace campaigns accounted for 54 percent of the Forsyth drive, and donors who gave $1,000 or more accounted for 44 percent, says Ron Drago, CEO.

The drive also generated 27 new individual donors giving $10,000 or more, an effort that offset the loss of 24 others.

To honor donors giving $10,000 or more, United Way will host an dinner April 21 at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art featuring Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security advisor.

United Way soon will assess its performance and potential for the past three drives, and develop plans to improve results.

Its board also has adopted a strategic plan that sets new goals for meeting community needs, working more closely with member agencies, measuring their impact, and helping donors understand the value of their support.

United Way, which nine years ago had 48 member agencies and simply reacted to their funding requests, wants its 34 current agencies to gear their programs starting next year to priorities United Way has identified through community surveys, Drago says.

“If we’re going to get the job done,” Drago says, “we want to forge stronger relationships and a truer partnership with a preferred group of premier agencies.”

The Greensboro drive included 86 new workplace campaigns that generated $205,000, roughly double the total from new campaigns in 2003, says Judy Piper, vice president of workplace development.

Twenty-five new donors gave $10,000 or more, with total giving at that level growing $316,000, or 14 percent.

More than 30 companies held events asking employees to give $1,000 or more, an effort that helped generate 200 new donors.

Of 1,500 workplace campaigns, 440 posted increases, 244 of them in double digits.

And the combined federal campaign, representing more than 6,000 local employees, grew 21 percent to $660,000.

United Way, now starting to review funding requests by agencies, consolidated priorities for which it will fund agencies starting next year, and is developing goals and strategies to help guide agencies in preparing requests and looking for ways to work together.

Those priorities include “growing successful kids,” “helping people help themselves,” and “caring for everyone’s health.”

The idea, says Sam Parker, vice president of community investment, is to be more effective in building partnerships that focus on problems identified through a United Way assessment last summer of community needs.

Both United Ways, along with United Way of Greater High Point, teamed up for the first time last year on a joint effort handled by Coyne Beahm Shouse in Greensboro to market their drives.

That effort will continue this year and be offered to United Ways in neighboring communities, Piper says.

At the annual meeting of United Way of North Carolina in February, Greensboro received 11 of 26 total awards, Winston-Salem and High Point each won two, and Roger Beahm of Coyne Beahm was the first statewide winner of the award for volunteer of the year.

Chairing this year’s drives will be Ed Welch, owner of I.L. Long Construction in Winston-Salem, and Meg Sternberg, vice president for public affairs at Ovations, a United Health Group Company, in Greensboro.

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