Greensboro United Way sets $11.3 million goal

United Way of Greater Greensboro
United Way of Greater Greensboro

Todd Cohen

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Last year, United Way of Greater Greensboro raised nearly $10.7 million in its annual campaign, $500,000 short of its goal and $200,000 less than it had raised in 2009.

Still, in the fiscal year that began July 1, United Way this fall allocated $6.6 million to support 75 programs at 29 health-and-human-services agencies in the community, an increase of 4.3 percent from the total it allocated a year ago.

And in its annual drive this fall, United Way has set a goal of $11.3 million, up 5 percent from the total it raised last year.

“It’s a goal to make a statement that, because of the need and the continued challenges of our local economy, we are appealing to this community to step up,” says Keith Barsuhn, United Way president and CEO. “We need the community to step and increase their support because programs that we are funding are some of the most vital programs that really help this community thrive.”

Chaired by Linda Brady, chancellor at UNC-Greensboro, the campaign is counting on gifts of $1,000 or more, which account for nearly 43 percent of total dollars raised in the campaign, Barsuhn says.

Those gifts totaled nearly $4.58 million from 2,555 donors in last year’s campaign, including roughly $2 million in gifts of $10,000 or more.

In particular, Barsuhn says, United Way will be targeting gifts from what it characterizes as “engagement groups,” including leaders who are African Americans, women and young professionals.

Last year, for example, nearly 500 young leaders gave $120 or more, up from 295 young leaders who gave at that level the previous year.

Barsuhn says United Way was able this fiscal year to increase its allocation to its partner agencies because it had collected pledges from the 2009 campaign at a higher rate than expected, and because of cuts it has made in the cost of operating its organization.

United Way collected $200,000 more than expected in pledges from the 2009 campaign, or 97 percent of all pledges.

As a result of those collections, Barsuhn says, United Way this year has set aside fewer dollars in a reserve to offset pledges that are not collected, and instead applied those dollars to allocations to programs at partner agencies.

United Way cut roughly $117,000, or 5.5 percent, from its annual operating budget, which this year totals about $2 million.

Those cuts were made in response to a mandate from the United Way board to identify “cost centers,” in each of which it would cut 10 percent.

United Way management made those cuts in the areas of personnel, building expenses, and supplies.

United Way allocations go to programs that prove effective in addressing health-and-human-services needs, Barsuhn says.

“We put the money to causes that work in our community,” he says. “We build on what’s working.”

He says United Way now is focused on fundraising throughout the year.

“We are raising money pretty intensely almost year-round,” he says. “We don’t have an end-date for this campaign.”

United Way expects it will make decisions in May on funding programs based on anticipated funds it will raise by the end of the fiscal year that ends June 30.

Next spring, for example, United Way plans to host its second annual women’s philanthropy event.

And in the face of the troubled economy and rising demand for services, United Way is counting on the community.

In many cases, dollars United Way this year has allocated to partner agencies “were a critical filler to the decrease in public-sector funds that our programs experienced,” Barsuhn says.

“If we didn’t come through, and we had had a reduction in funding to our programs, and the public sector did have a reduction in funding to those programs,” he says, “our community would have been having severe human-service impacts beyond what we’re having today.”

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