Triangle YMCA concludes fund drive

Orage Quarles III
Orage Quarles III

Todd Cohen

RALEIGH, N.C. — This summer, for the third straight year, kids from kindergarten through eighth grade who live in southeast Raleigh will be able to attend one of seven one-week day-camp sessions sponsored by YMCA of the Greater Triangle on the campus of Saint Augustine’s College.

The sessions, which enroll roughly 300 kids a week, are offered for free because the Y supports them through dollars it raises in its annual “We Build People” fund drive.

Chaired by Orage Quarles III, president and publisher of The News & Observer, this year’s drive concludes February 12 and was expected to have raised $3.6 million.

That is the same total raised last year and fell short of its $4 million goal, which also  was the same as last year’s and was set as part of a long-range plan developed before the recession, says Brad Davis, vice president of development.

Every dollar raised in the drive is used to support outreach programs and scholarships for people who otherwise could not afford traditional programs the Y offers at its 12 branches and three camps.

Roughly 1,400 volunteers work on the drive, which raises money mainly through individual gifts.

Operating with an annual budget of roughly $60 million and 3,000 employees, including 300 who work full-time, the Y serves over 150,000 people in the Triangle, including 30,000 individual and family members, plus volunteers and non-members who participate in its sports leagues, after-school programs and summer day camps.

Funds raised in the annual drive last year provided programs and scholarships for 9,000 kids and families, a total the Y hopes to increase to 10,000 this year.

This year’s drive received over 11,000 gifts, including roughly 1,000 gifts of $1,000 or more.

The biggest gift, from the Carolina Hurricanes, sponsored after-school programs at Stough Elementary School on Edwards Mill Road in Raleigh and Franklinton Elementary School in Franklinton.

The drive this year provided volunteers with short video testimonials about the Y they could share with their friends using social media like text-messaging, Facebook and Twitter, a strategy the Y will expand next year to increase “immediate-response giving,” Davis says.

Still, the drive “is more about story-telling, and more investment-minded,” Davis says.

“Primarily, this is a campaign that comes in through individual gifts,” he says, “volunteers meeting face-to-face with individual donors who really think of themselves as investors in the YMCA.”

The Y continues to look for opportunities to expand in regions with demand for services and local leaders willing to head up local efforts to raise funds to support new branches, Davis says.

Last fall, for example, the Y opened a storefront facility in Sanford in Lee County, marking the first step that could lead to a permanent facility.

Another new effort is Camp High Hopes, the Y summer camp at St. Augustine’s.

“These are children who, before camp, faced challenges to have a real positive future,” says Davis, who himself joined the Y at age seven through a scholarships.

Kids at High Hope sget a healthy and nutritious breakfast and participate in activities led by counselors, college students and even some professors.

“At High Hopes, they have great role models,” Davis says. “And all of a sudden they get the message, ‘I can go to college. I can be successful.'”

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