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United Way looks for givers

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Craig Chancellor

Craig Chancellor

Todd Cohen

United Way of the Greater Triangle reached 29 percent of the region’s workforce last year in its annual fundraising drive, with only four percent of the workforce actually making donations.

The drive raised $17 million, or $1.5 million less than its goal and $2 million less than it had raised the previous year.

Increasing participation in the annual United Way drive will be critical to addressing urgent health and human service needs and reversing last year’s plunge, when the onset of the recession hurt charitable giving overall, says Craig Chancellor, United Way president and CEO.

Chaired by John Stallings, regional president for SunTrust Bank for Central Carolinas, this year’s drive aims to raise $17.3 million.

Because United Way merged this summer with United Way of Johnston County, which last year raised $300,000, this year’s goal represents the total the combined organization raised last year.

And while United Way continues to encourage contributions to its “Give United Fund” that allocates dollars to its partner agencies, the focus of the drive will be to increase giving overall, Chancellor says.

“We want to get as many people as possible participating in United Way,” he says.

The recession is spurring higher demand for services from United Way’s partner agencies while making it tougher for them to generate the revenue the need to cover operating costs, Chancellor says.

Partner agencies that receive dollars through the Give United Fund, he says, are held accountable by United Way for the way they spend that money.

The drive, which kicked off Sept. 3, had raised nearly $2 million by Sept. 29, compared to nearly $1.9 million it had raised at the same point in the drive last year.

While few employers held early workplace campaigns this year, Kroger had increased its giving to $68,000 from $36,000 a year ago.

Most corporations that are running campaigns have raised more than they had at the same point last year, says Jim Green, senior vice president for resource development.

As part of the effort to encourage more people overall to give, a key focus of the drive will be recruiting more individuals to make larger gifts.

Gifts of $500 to $10,000 last year totaled over $3.3 million.

Special efforts are targeting African Americans and women to give at that “leadership” level.

United Way also is encouraging people ages 30 to 40 to give at least $800, and asking people under 30 to give at least $500.

And seven companies have pledged a total of $223,000 to match donations by givers who agree to increase their annual giving to $10,000 over four years.

Gifts at that level last year totaled over $1.4 million.

United Way also is asking employers to set up special efforts to encourage some employers to make larger gifts.

Green says United Way needs all the givers it can get.

“We just want to keep people giving and get more people involved,” he says. “And if people have the means to give more, we’re asking them to do that.”

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