YWCA Greensboro aims to grow

By Todd Cohen

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Constrained by a small facility, an operating deficit and a lack of public awareness about its programs, YWCA Greensboro is gearing up to expand its donor base, generate more revenue from special events and annual fundraising, launch a marketing campaign and undertake a drive to raise money to replace its building with a much larger facility.

With an annual budget of $1.5 million, the YWCA serves about 1,000 people a day through 78 health and wellness programs, after-school programs for 300 children and a day-care program for 20 children.

But with a 22,000-square-foot facility built in the early 1960s, the YWCA counts on other organizations to let it use their space for some of its programs.

The YWCA also faces the challenge of overcoming a lack of knowledge about its focus on eliminating racism and empowering women, says Carolyn Flowers, CEO.

Based on a study to test the feasibility of a capital campaign to raise $12 million to $14 million to build a 100,000-square-foot facility, a consultant recommended last spring that the YWCA delay plans to launch the campaign so it could devote time to a corporate-funded marketing effort, Flowers says.

The YWCA plans to conduct that marketing effort this year, she says, and to begin the quiet phase of the campaign, probably in the middle of 2007.

The YWCA also has developed plans to generate more revenue through strategies such as special events and asking long-term supporters and former board presidents and board members for larger gifts.

Those plans aim to offset an operating deficit that totaled $40,000 in the fiscal year ended June 30, 2005, and a decline in support from United Way of Greater Greensboro.

That decline in support, which has fallen to 17 percent of the YWCA’s annual budget from 44 percent seven years ago, reflects a drop in contributions to United Way in the wake of 9/11 and closings or layoffs at major local companies, as well as a shift by United Way in the focus of its funding, Flower says.

Aiming to reduce its dependence on United Way, she says, the YWCA has worked to diversify its funding.

Since 2001, when the number of members had declined to 1,300, for example, the YWCA has tripled ts membership to 3,900.

And starting in 2001, the YWCA has sponsored an annual golf tournament that has generated funds for an endowment that supports scholarships for the organization’s summer-camp program.

Named for Flowers’ son, Johnathan, who was killed in an accident in 1997, this year’s tournament, held in September, generated $20,000.

Half the funds from the tournament go to the endowment, which now totals $45,000 and provides income for scholarships, and the other half are used directly for scholarships.

And next spring, the YWCA will sponsor its first “Girls and Women in Sports Awards Dinner,” a fundraising event the organization plans to hold on an annual basis, says Mildred Powell, programs development director.

The first inaugural event, to be held March 25 at the Greensboro Coliseum, will honor Kay Yow, women’s basketball coach at N.C. State University, as the first “outstanding woman in sports,” and will include a talk by Christine Brennan, a sports columnist for USA Today and author of “Best Seat in the House: A Father, a Daughter, a Journey Through Sports.”

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