Triangle drive kicks off

By Todd Cohen

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Triangle United Way has kicked off its annual fundraising drive with a goal of $11 million, down slightly from the total raised last year.

United Way aims to increase undesignated contributions to its general “community care fund,” and to spur more giving through a series of strategies, says Sarah Smith, vice president of resource development.

Those strategies include electronic giving at big employers, and tours of agencies addressing critical needs that are the focus of the community care fund, she says.

Contributions to the fund grew by nearly $20,000 last year to more than $11.2 million, the first increase since United Way four years ago shifted the focus of the campaign to undesignated giving.

“My personal goal is to exceed last year’s number,” says Orage Quarles III, campaign chair and publisher of The News & Observer.

Tours for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina and Capitol Broadcasting Co. that let their employees see the impact of programs supported by United Way helped boost giving last year, and Smith hopes to add tours for more firms this year.

And the Women’s Leadership Council, a group chaired by community volunteer Virginia Parker that aims to boost giving by women and involve them in United Way activities, on Sept. 29 will host a tour, sponsored by SunTrust, of programs supported by the community care fund.

United Way also is encouraging larger employers to use its electronic United eWay system to handle communications and contributions for their workplace campaigns.

At GSK, for example, community-care giving grew last year after the pharmaceutical firm shifted to an electronic campaign, Smith says.

Several dozen firms that account for more than 20 percent of all donors used the system last year, and Smith hopes to add up to eight more this year.

United Way also working with several local firms that have provided pro-bono support for its marketing efforts, chaired by Bernie Prazenica, general manager of WTVD News Channel 11.

Capstrat, for example, is providing advertising support, and Click Vue, produced a five-minute campaign video.

Other special events include the third annual Harvest Feast, sponsored by Harris Teeter, that will be held Oct. 30 at the RBC Center and last year served thousands of meals, and the Old Reliable Run, a 10K event benefiting United Way and sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield that will be held Nov. 13.

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