Moore United Way reaches out

By Todd Cohen

SOUTHERN PINES, N.C. — With needs for health and human services outpacing charitable contributions to support programs to address those needs, United Way of Moore County aims to increase its fundraising this year.

Last year, falling short of its $625,000 goal in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, United Way raised only $602,000 in its annual fund drive.

After covering administrative costs totaling 13 percent of the funds raised, and accounting for pledges that were not collected, United Way this year allocated $431,600 to its 23 partner agencies.

That spending, equal to the amount United Way allocated a year ago, fell $120,000 short of funds the agencies requested.

Chaired by Kim Gilley, co-owner of Village Printers in Pinehurst, this year’s drive again has set a goal of $625,000.

The drive kicked off Sept. 8 with a “Day of Caring” featuring up to 100 volunteers working at 12 United Way partner agencies.

The volunteer effort, designed to highlight the work and impact of United Way agencies and volunteers, ranged from cleaning, cataloging and organizing the toy and resource lending library at Child Care Connections to delivering hot lunches to homebound individuals for Meals on Wheels.

While the drive traditionally has counted heavily on workplace giving, the loss in recent years of big employers like Kmart in Southern Pines and Klaussner Furniture in Robbins have hurt overall giving, says Linda Pearson, executive director.

So United Way has been increasing its effort to raise money from individuals outside the workplace.

A key strategy this year, chaired by community volunteer Jenna Bullis, will be an effort to secure more gifts of $1,000 or more from individual donors.

Last year, those gifts accounted for nearly 23 percent of dollars raised in the annual drive.

Gilley says most businesses in the county employ 25 or fewer people, with many employing only a handful of people, so the drive is looking for ways to reach more individuals.

United Way will continue its efforts of recent years to reach the county’s growing retirement community, she says.

And a “peer-to-peer” strategy has recruited individuals from a range of business sectors to reach out to companies and individuals in those sectors.

Marilyn Neely, director of the Small Business Center at Sandhills Community College, for example, is chairing an effort that is targeting professionals in the financial-services, insurance and real-estate industries.

United Way also raises money through a series of special events.

A golf tournament in June at the Country Club of North Carolina, for example, generated $24,000, up from $13,000 a year earlier.

In September, October and November, United Way aims to sell 2,000 raffle tickets for $10 each as part of “Dining and Dollars for United Way” that is supported by local restaurants and gives ticket-buyers coupons for meals at the restaurants.

And in January, it will host its fourth “Cornerstone Award Dinner” to honor a community leader.

The 2006 event honored Felton Caple, president of Century Associates in Pinebluff.

As it looks ahead, United Way also plans to conduct a survey next year on community needs to help it identify how best to address those needs.

Based on a similar survey in 2003, United Way set three priority areas in which it allocates funds to its partner agencies.

Chaired by George Erickson, a retired educator, three volunteer panels visit partner agencies, hear their presentations and review their applications.

This year, United Way allocated nearly $168,000 to 10 agencies that serve families, up from $166,000 in 2005.

It also allocated just over $160,000 to nine agencies that serve youth, nearly the total it allocated last year, and just over $81,000 to four agencies that provide emergency and medical services, up from nearly $79,000 last year.

“Our community is well aware that people are in need,” says Pearson. “We are grateful for the generosity of the people who live here.”

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