By Todd Cohen
GREENSBORO, N.C. — Faced with rising needs, and getting upbeat outlooks from local employers, United Way of Greater Greensboro expects to raise more in its annual drive this fall than it did last year, its chief executive says.
“There’s much more optimism than I’ve seen in a long, long time,” says Neil Belenky, president.
Chaired by Billy Nutt, president and CEO of AIG United Guaranty, this year’s drive kicked off Sept. 19 and is focusing on reaching new donors and encouraging existing donors to give more, Belenky says.
United Way has set a goal of $3.2 million for the drive, up $200,000 from the total raised last year.
United Way aims to secure a total of $150,000 in commitments from individuals, foundations and companies, and use those funds to match increases by donors giving at least $1,000 more than they did last year.
While donors who gave $1,000 or more accounted for 38 percent of last year’s drive, matching funds last year totaled only $75,000 and matched only increases from donors giving $10,000 or more.
United Way also wants to enlist more women to give $10,000 or more, and has created a mentoring program, known as “Wings,” that will pair women already giving at that level with younger women to provide advice on giving and leadership.
To increase giving in the workplace, United Way volunteers and staff will make personal visits to top executives at 150 companies that sponsor employee campaigns and account for nearly two-thirds of dollars raised in the annual drive.
United Way also will visit 30 companies with the potential to generate more through their employee campaigns than they have in the past, says Robin Lindsey, vice president for resource development.
United Way also is enlisting companies that have not run employee campaigns in the past.
INFOnxx, for example, a national firm with a local call center that employs 1,400 people and provides 4-1-1 information service for cellular companies, has agreed to run a workplace campaign for the first time, Lindsey says.
For the third straight year, United Way is participating in a joint marketing effort spearheaded by Greensboro communications firm CoyneBeahmShouse that has included other United Ways in the region and in Eastern North Carolina.
The effort features specially designed marketing materials local United Ways can share and customize, and this year will include United Way of Central Carolinas in Charlotte and Triangle United Way in Research Triangle Park.
In its marketing materials and its visits with corporate executives, employee groups and individual donors, Belenky says, United Way will focus on the role it plays in addressing both immediate needs and the roots of social problems.
Based on dollars it raised in its annual drive last year, United Way this year is investing $8.6 million in community programs provided by its 31 partner agencies.
The bulk of the programs it supports address problems in three broad areas – children, self-help and health.
But United Way also provides support for three big initiatives that focus on children in their first three years of life; a 2-1-1 phone system that provides information and referrals about health and human services; and development of a 10-year plan to end chronic homelessness in Guilford County.
“United Way goes beyond quick fixes, delivering lasting change,” Belenky says.