High Point United Way lifts sights

By Todd Cohen

HIGH POINT, N.C. — With some companies participating for the first time, and some other employers posting strong results in early “pacesetter” campaigns, United Way of Greater High Point has set a goal of raising $4.37 million in its annual fund drive, up 3 percent from the total it raised last year.

“The economic news isn’t necessarily rosy,” says Bobby Smith, executive director. “I’m just optimistic and I’m genuinely confident and I think we’re going to do well.”

Chaired by Charles Cain, a global vice president for Banner Pharmacaps, the drive will include an aggressive effort focusing on employers that have never had a campaign, are new to the area or have seen their campaigns lapse.

Employing roughly 300 people combined, Universal Furniture International and its sister firm, Legacy Classic Furniture, which is new to the area, both are holding their first United Way workplace campaigns, Smith says.

The two firms, both affiliated with LifeStyle Furnishings International, are considering a friendly fundraising competition, and each firm is considering offering using corporate funds to match employee contributions, Smith says.

And La-Z-Boy Furniture, which employs roughly 90 people and is relocating from Greensboro, will participate in High Point’s drive for the first time.

La-Z-Boy alone could add $40,000 to $50,000 to the High Point drive, based on the total it generated for United Way of Greater Greensboro several years ago, Smith says.

Early workplace campaigns also have posted strong results, he says.

High Point Bank & Trust Co., for example, generated $130,000, up 17 percent from last year.

High Point Regional Health System, on the immediate heels of its own capital campaign that raised nearly $230,000 from employees, generated another $166,000 for United Way. While that was down from over $181,000 it raised last year, this year’s total included 42 gifts of $1,000, 12 more than last year.

And Banner Pharmacaps expects to increase its giving by roughly one-third to over $100,000.

Last year’s drive raised 3.5 percent more than the previous year, despite the loss of an estimated $50,000 to $60,000 when Rose Furniture Co. and Wood-Armfield Furniture Co. both went out of business, Smith says.

A key focus of the drive will be to encourage donors to make larger gifts.

Last year, for example, 62 “Toqueville” donors each gave $10,000 or more for a total of $695,000, while nearly 650 “leadership” donors gave between $1,000 and $9,999, with 90 percent of them giving $1,000 to $1,500.

United Way plans to publish soon in the High Point Enterprise a list naming every donor who last year gave $1,000 or more.

“We want to thank people and want others who have not joined our leadership ranks to see we have such a healthy number, and for people to understand there are levels within leadership giving,” Smith says. “We’d like to encourage others to leap a level.”

United Way recognizes donors who give at least $1,000, $1,500, $2,500, $5,000, $7,500 or $10,000.

Funds raised in the drive support United Way’s 29 partner agencies serving roughly one of every three residents of High Point, Archdale, Trinity and Jamestown in four “fields of service,” including “thriving children and families;” “independent and self-sufficient people;” “healthy people;” and “safe neighborhoods.”

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