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Forsyth United Way sets $17.3 million goal

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Cindy Gordineer

Cindy Gordineer

Todd Cohen

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Requests for food at Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina in Winston-Salem have grown dramatically in the troubled economy, and the agency is struggling to keep food on the shelves.

And requests for assistance from people facing foreclosure have increased at Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Forsyth County, which last year helped save just over 2,000 homes from foreclosure.

In the face of rising demand at health-and-human-services agencies, the goal for this year’s annual fund drive at United Way of Forsyth County is “not just to raise that number of dollars,” says Cindy Gordineer, United Way’s new president and CEO. “It helps serve people in the community who find themselves in need to build a better quality of life.”

Chaired by Sallye Liner, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Novant Health Triad Region, this year’s campaign has a goal of $17,325,000, the same as last year, when the campaign exceeded the goal by $1,000.

Gordineer, a former regional executive for American Red Cross in New York State who joined United Way Aug. 1, succeeded Ron Drago, who retired after heading the organization since July 1995.

Gordineer says the strategy for this fall’s campaign will be to focus on the basics, “reminding the community about the needs,” talking to as many potential supporters and investors as possible, returning to people who have indicated an interest in giving, and getting campaign leaders and United Way board members involved “to make sure we don’t miss any opportunities.”

Key areas of focus will be individuals who give $1,000 or more, a group that accounts for just over two-thirds of all giving by individuals and nearly half of the total campaign, which also includes grants and corporate gifts.

Andy Brown, CEO of DataChambers and incoming United Way board chair for 2012, has pledged up to $100,000 in matching funds to encourage donors to increase their annual gift to $10,000 over three years.

This campaign also marks the final year of a five-year commitment by the Reynolds American Foundation to provide matching funds of up to $200,000 a year to encourage women to join United Way’s Women’s Leadership Council by increasing their annual gift to $1,000 or more over five years.

In 2010, 880 women participated in that effort, contributing a total of $400,000 in addition to the $200,000 match from the Reynolds American Foundation.

United Way also is working to enlist more donors age 18 to 40 by encouraging them to pledge to make an annual gift of $250 and a commitment to volunteer 24 hours a year.

In 2010, 400 people made that pledge, contributing over $250,000.

Gordineer says United Way early next year will begin a process of reviewing a strategic plan that will end at the end of 2011, a process that will be “inclusive” in engaging the community in helping to set priorities for United Way for the next three to five years.

Current priorities focus on investing in education, financial stability and health, with United Way funding “breakthrough initiatives” to help address those priority needs.

As part of that strategy, United Way also makes multi-year grants, an approach designed to give partner agencies “more sense of stability about their funding stream,” Gordineer says.

And the strategy is having an impact, she says.

In the area of health, for example, United Way funding has allowed the Community Care Center’s Med-Aid program over three years to provide $10.7 million worth of prescription medication to clients who cannot afford it, provided for free by pharmaceutical companies.

The idea, says Gordineer, is to “bring together partner agencies and others to focus on the more complex problems and bring in the resources to make that happen.”

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