By Todd Cohen
HIGH POINT, N.C. –United Way of Greater High Point is counting on momentum from early “pacesetter” workplace campaigns at nearly 20 employers to fuel its annual drive.
Those campaigns account for roughly one-fourth of the drive, which is expected to equal or exceed by up to 3 percent the $4.1 million United Way raised in 2005, says Bobby Smith, president.
With a flat economy and no big business losses, Smith says, the region also has not enjoyed any big windfalls.
“Most people I talk to say the local economy is about even with last year,” he says.
For each of the past two years, the drive has grown by 3.5 percent, an increase it posted last year in addition to an outpouring of local support for relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Smith says.
Guilford County Schools, for example, raised $200,000 for Katrina relief just before the kickoff of United Way’s campaign, which generates about $80,000 from the schools’ workplace drive.
And with an 8 percent increase this year in teacher salaries, and higher enrollment that has triggered an increase in the number of teachers, Smith says, the schools “should be poised to have a good campaign.”
Chaired by Ken McAllister, a law partner in The McAllister Firm, the drive has posted strong early returns from a handful of employers that have completed their pacesetter campaigns.
The Cross Company, for example, increased its giving to $55,000 from $45,000 last year.
And the fire department for the City of High Point, the biggest department in United Way’s biggest workplace campaign, increased its giving to $55,000 from $53,000.
The city, which last year raised $250,000, has not completed its campaign.
Larger gifts also continue to be a big focus of the drive.
United Way, which last year received 55 gifts of $10,000 or more, already has received gifts from two new donors at that level.
Overall, gifts of $1,000 or more account for 35 percent of the drive.
The High Point Enterprise also will help market the drive by running an ad for two months that promises to contribute to United Way half the proceeds of each new subscription to the newspaper.
While it markets the annual drive by emphasizing the impact that donors’ dollars have on 67 health and human services programs operated by its 29 partner agencies, United Way also works year-round on other community initiatives, Moné says.
In the past few years, for example, United Way has provided marketing support for a food drive in May by the U.S. Postal Service, part of a national effort in which United Way of America is a partner.
The volume of food raised in the local drive has grown in that period to 28,000 pounds from 15,000 pounds, food that benefits United Way partner agencies during the summer when inventories in food pantries run low, Moné says.
United Way also has teamed up with local chambers of commerce and Communities in Schools to help market “Fill the Bus,” a county-wide initiative to enlist companies as partners to provide supplies and volunteers for public-school classrooms.