Charlotte YMCA nears goal

By Todd Cohen

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The YMCA of Greater Charlotte needs to raise $3 million to $4 million to complete a capital campaign that is funding two new Y facilities and a new camp, and giving a big boost to its endowment and annual giving.

The Y also is considering building another new facility, possibly in Lincoln County, and has hired Capstone Advancement Partners to study the feasibility of a new drive.

Chaired by Ken Thompson, chairman and CEO of Wachovia, the campaign has raised $50 million, says Dean Jones, senior vice president for financial development.

The Y has raised $23.5 million for capital projects, $8.5 million for endowment, $13 million in five-year commitments from individual donors for annual giving, $2 million in unrestricted gifts, and $3 million in gifts for projects in addition to those the campaign will fund.

Capital projects include new Y facilities in Charlotte’s West Boulevard community and in Mooresville, and a new residential camp in Wilkes County.

The new Stratford Richardson Y, at West Boulevard and Donald Ross Road, will total 35,000 square feet and be named for the late Willie J. Stratford and James Richardson, two community leaders who were employees of the U.S. Postal Service.

The new Lowe’s YMCA in Mooresville opened in December.

And the new Herring Ridge/Camp Harrison, which serves roughly 1,000 youngsters each summer, opened in 2004.

Founded in 1874, the Y operates 16 facilities and two resident camps, and serves 170,000 members, or roughly one of every six residents of the four-county area it serves, says Jones.

With an annual budget of $70 million, the Y has increased its annual giving to $3 million from between $1 million and $2 million since the campaign began.

Nearly all of the endowment funds raised so far have been through outright gifts, not deferred gifts.

And only 11 gifts accounted for the first $20 million raised for the campaign overall.

The campaign has received a $3 million gift from an individual it has not yet identified, and $2 million gifts from Bank of America, Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated, Lowe’s Corp., Harris Foundation, Microsoft, Wachovia, and the Dowd family and its Charlotte Pipe and Foundry.

Steering committees for the overall campaign and for each Y branch have played key roles, with each branch responsible for raising endowment funds for itself and for the Y’s main endowment, Jones says.

The bulk of endowment funds are used to support programs in branches in economically distressed communities.

Under a “Y Community” initiative launched in 2003, four urban branches also have been teamed with branches in more affluent communities to collaborate on efforts such as fundraising, human resources and board issues.

The Y launched the initiative in the wake of a study of the region’s “social capital” that found a lack of trust among different races, and a lack of places for informal socializing.

Under the initiative, donors from one branch even have made substantial gifts to their partner branch.

Collaboration among branches, Jones says, has “become how we do business.”

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