Easter Seals UCP steps up fundraising

By Todd Cohen

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Charlotte office of Easter Seals UCP North Carolina, a Raleigh-based nonprofit created through the January 2004 merger of Easter Seals North Carolina and United Cerebral Palsy of North Carolina, is stepping up efforts to raise money and awareness about its work.

Serving roughly 15,000 adults and children with disabilities a year, the statewide agency operates with an annual budget of $90 million and a staff of 2,500 people, 1,000 of them working full-time.

The agency provides a broad range of services for people with disabilities or special needs, and their families, including individuals with disabilities that occur from birth or as a result of accidents, illness or aging, and may include hearing, speech, mobility or language impairments, neurological disorders or developmental disabilities.

Services the agency provides include home help for adults who live on their own; mental-health services for children; physical, occupational, and speech-and-hearing therapy for children and adults; support groups for parents and for stroke and polio survivors; respite care for family members; job placement and on-the-job training; and supported living in nine group homes.

In the Charlotte region, the agency aims to raise $550,000 in the fiscal year that began July 1, part of the group’s statewide fundraising goal of $3.28 million, says Basil Williams, senior director of development.

To do that, the local office plans to double to 24 the number of members on its board of advisers, a group whose main role is raising money for the organization.

The Charlotte office, which employs 50 people, raises money mainly through special events, including walks in Charlotte and Greensboro.

The Charlotte walk, held Nov. 3, was expected to attract over 400 people and raise over $120,000, while the Greensboro walk, held Sept. 29, attracted over 120 people and raised $7,000.

The local office also will host a dinner auction April 26 at The Westin that aims to raise $100,000, and a golf tournament May 8 that aims to raise $50,000.

The Charlotte operation also holds monthly tours of its Children’s Development Center, which provides year-round day care for 90 children, half of whom have disabilities, half of whom do not.

On April 2, for the second straight year, the agency will hold a luncheon for everyone who has attended the tours, along with guests invited by members of the board of advisers.

At the luncheon, to be held at Carmel Country Club, Eastern Seals UCP North Carolina will ask guests for donations.

The agency also solicits support for its 10-year-old Presidents’ Council, a group that recognizes individuals who give $1,000 or more.

And plans are in the works to develop a formal effort to solicit gifts to it Horizon Foundation, which was formed in 2000 and now totals nearly $700,000.

That new effort will include endowment support and planned giving through gifts that are deferred or involve assets other than cash.

The board of advisers also is working to develop a strategy for raising the organization’s profile in the media.

“Most of the folks who know our services,” Williams says, “are the people who are receiving our services.”

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