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Guilford United Way drives at mid-point

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Bobby Smith

Bobby Smith

Todd Cohen

The United Ways in Greensboro and High Point have announced results so far in this year’s fund drive and called on the community to step up and give to help address rising  demand for health and human services in the face of the struggling economy.

Just over two months into their annual campaigns, United Way of Greater Greensboro has met half its goal and United Way of Greater High Point has met nearly two-thirds of its  goal.

With respective goals of $11.2 million and $4.25 million, the Greensboro and High Point United Ways have raised over $5.6 million and nearly $2.7 million, respectively.

The two United Ways announced strong results at some companies but cautioned that the drives still face challenges in reaching their goals.

“I feel better about where we are compared to last year,” says Keith Barsuhn, president and CEO of Greensboro’s United Way.

“I’m not ready to forecast that we’re going to make this goal,” he says. “I know of a number of places, supporters and organizations that are going to struggle this year to equal what they were able to provide last year. We’re going to see some downs.”

Bobby Smith, president of High Point’s United Way, says the campaign results so far show that, for all companies that have completed their workforce and corporate campaigns, including those that are down from last year, the overall totals are showing an increase of 4 percent over last year.

“We’re feeling optimistic,” he says. “Things have definitely bottomed out” in the economy, with companies reporting they are busy, making money and finding new markets.

Greensboro’s United Way raised $11.5 million last year, when it fell $1 million short of its goal and of the total raised the previous year, while High Point’s United Way raised just over $4.3 million last year, when it fell $163,000 short of its goal and 3 percent to 4 percent less than the previous year.

Greensboro’s United Way this year distributed $7.3 million to support roughly 65 programs at its 30 partner agencies, down $700,000 from the previous year, and was able to limit the spending cuts by reducing its operating budget by 13 percent.

High Point’s United Way last year distributed over $2.6 million to 70 programs at its 29 partner agencies, and over the past two years has reduced funding to those agencies by 4 percent from a record-high in 2007.

It also has cut $110,000 from its budget, or over 10 percent, over the past three years.

Both United Ways cite a handful of workplace and corporate campaigns that have shown strong results.

After its business faced a tough year last year, for example, United Guaranty has raised $266,775 so far in its campaign, up 416 percent from last year, Barsuhn says.

And Lincoln Financial is on track for a 10 percent increase in its overall giving, including a 10 percent increase in its corporate giving.

In High Point, employee giving at Banner Pharmacaps has grown 16 percent from last year, and overall giving is up 6 percent at Old Dominin Freight Lines, with a 5 percent increase in employee giving and a 9 percent increase in employees participating in the campaign.

Smith says a major company, which he would not identify, held a raffle to encourage people to give, and one of the most popular raffle items was the opportunity to get out of working overtime – a sign, he says, that business is growing.

Barsuhn says giving to United Way is critical to support effective programs that help address health and human service needs in the county.

“Their money goes to programs in our community,” he says, “that build on what’s working for our community.”

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