United Way drive focuses on impact

Craig Chancellor
Craig Chancellor

Todd Cohen

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — Among the 158 health-and-human-services programs it funds at its 85 partner agencies, United Way of the Greater Triangle supports ┬áprograms geared to helping senior citizens live in their own homes.

Last year, those efforts helped 20,000 senior citizens maintain their living independence.

Those seniors were among one in four people in Wake, Durham, Orange and Johnston counties that receive a United Way service during the year.

“An investment in United Way produces results, and we’ve seen a lot of good results that our agencies are getting,” says Craig Chancellor, United Way president and CEO.

United Way will focus on its results during its annual fund drive this year.

Chaired by Victoria Haynes, president and CEO of RTI International, the effort aims to raise $17.5 million, up from the $17.02 million it raised last year, when it fell $280,000 short of its goal.

The higher goal aims to provide funds United Way’s partner agencies will need to meet an increase of roughly 30 percent in demand for services.

To cope with that rising demand, Chancellor says, many agencies have reduced their staffing and tried to keep their budgets and salaries flat.

“All the cost-savings measures you have to put in place in this economy,” he says, “they’ve been doing that.”

United Way itself has reduced its staff by positions to 38, limited salary increases to 2.5 percent for each of the past two years, and kept its annual operating budget flat at just over $4 million.

This year, based on the fu waynds it raised in last year’s drive, United Way allocated $6.8 million for its partner agencies, plus $8.5 million to other agencies designated by donors.

To meet the goal for this year’s drive, United Way aims to increase “leadership” gifts of $1,200 or more, which last year totaled $4.6 million, and corporate gifts, which last year totaled $3.6 million, by 5 percent each, and to increase by 5 percentage points overall participation in the drive, which last year included 36,000 donors, or 18 percent of the people asked to give.

It also aims to increase electronic giving, including online giving and social-media giving, to $100,000 from $42,000 last year, and to raise funds through the Old Reliable Run on Nov. 14, an event that last year raised $85,000.

Chancellor says United Way works to hold its partner agencies accountable for the funds they receive from donors to the annual drive.

To become a United Way partner, agencies must go through a certification process “to assure us the agency is well-run and managed well financially,” he says.

And to receive United Way funds, agencies must meet specific outcomes in their programs.

“It goes beyond numbers served,” Chancellor says. “It’s about the positive impact they have on people’s lives.”

For after-school programs that aim to help youth improve their grades in school, for example, the improvement students actually show.

“People who invest in United Way are having a positive impact on people’s lives,” he says, “and by extension on the community.”

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