By Todd Cohen
HIGH POINT, N.C. — Offsetting the loss of $70,000 from workplace drives at two big furniture retailers facing financial difficulties, United Way of Greater High Point raised over $4.25 million in its annual drive last fall, exceeding its goal by nearly $58,000.
The drive, fueled by workplace campaigns at big employers and big gifts from individuals, also exceeded the total raised a year earlier by 3.5 percent.
After overhead costs equal to roughly 17 percent of the total raised, and excluding contributions that donors designated for organizations outside High Point, United Way expects to allocate to its 29 partner agencies this year more dollars than it ever has from an annual drive, says Bobby Smith, president.
Chaired by Ken McAllister, a law partner in The McAllister Firm, the drive marked the third straight year in which United Way has exceeded the previous year’s total by 3 percent or more, and represents an increase of roughly 12 percent from the $3.8 million raised in 2003.
“The economy is slowly improving,” Smith says. “We’re transitioning from a manufacturing economy to a service economy.”
Michelle Caldwell, vice president for resource development, says the 10 biggest employers participating in the drive generated $75,000 more than they did the previous year.
Workplace campaigns and corporate support at those 10 employers raised $1.4 million, or roughly one-third of the total raised.
Also fueling the overall increase were individual donors giving $1,000 or more, Caldwell says.
Those donors gave 6.5 percent more than they did the previous year and accounted for over one-third of the total raised.
Over 590 individuals contributed nearly $845,000 in gifts of $1,000 to $9,999, up from over 570 who gave $805,000 at that level the previous year.
And 59 individuals contributed nearly $670,000 in gifts of $10,000 or more, up from 55 who gave $611,000 at that level the previous year.
Cross Company, with 90 employees in Piedmont Center in North High Point, raised just over $100,000, up from roughly $60,000 the previous year, landing it the Spirit of High Point Award for best workplace campaign.
And the City of High Point, High Point Regional Health System, High Point University, Marsh Furniture Co., and River Landing at Sandy Ridge all won Spirit of North Carolina Awards from United Way of North Carolina, recognizing workplace campaigns that were among the best in the state.
For its 2007 drive, to be chaired by Charles Cain, chief legal counsel for Banner Pharmacaps, also in Piedmont Center, United Way will focus on enlisting donors and workplace campaigns that never have participated before, with a United Way staff person devoting at least half her time to the effort.
United Way also plans to strengthen its donor-relations effort, including how, and how often, it communicates with donors, and the reliability of the data it collects from and shares with them.
United Way, for example, has redesigned its website, which now includes more links that donors can use to get information about programs that United Way funds, and also is distributing a new quarterly email newsletter to donors.