The United Way of Horry County’s annual fundraising drive is in a positive position – two percentage points ahead of last year’s drive toward a larger goal – but volunteers will continue to press businesses, individuals and organizations to donate or increase their giving.
“The funds are always needed,” United Way president Genie Sherard says.
She is upbeat about the campaign, at 92 percent of the $1,325,000 goal, but points out that the last few percentage points can be the most difficult to achieve. “We’re pulling out all the stops. We don’t stop until April 30. We need people to donate.”
The goal for the 2016-17 drive was increased by $25,000. The past two campaigns have passed their financial targets after annual drives fell short following the recession of 2008. The 2016-17 goal is $150,000 under the goal several years ago, indicative of the long economic turnaround from the recession. As of Feb. 6, this campaign had $1,220,585 in contributions and pledges.
The two area United Way organizations, including Black River United Way serving Georgetown and Williamsburg counties, help fund more than 50 nonprofits that serve tens of thousands of people. BRUW and Horry joined together for a successful “United to Read” day in November when volunteers read to youngsters in their classrooms.
Today, about 70 Coastal Carolina University student-athletes are reading “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein to kindergartners in Horry County classrooms. The youngsters make notes and drawings for shut-in seniors.
One of the factors in United Way of Horry County fundraising has been the Crescent Society, formed two and a half years ago, to encourage family contributions of $5,000. The United Way had the Palmetto Society for gifts of $1,000, and the national Tocqueville Society, for gifts of $10,000.
Dennis Wade, president and CEO of The Jackson Companies, chairs the Crescent Society. Wade is a former UWHC board member and a past campaign chairman.
The idea was to move couples or individuals who were giving $1,000 or more to contributions of $5,000. So far, the current campaign has 12 Crescent Society members, with several weeks to go, and, as Wade says, plenty of room for more members. Moreover, a second donor became a Tocqueville Society member. The name is from the 19th century Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville.
“It’s all inter-related,” Wade says. “We had such a gap between $1,000 and $10,000 [gifts].”
Wade’s efforts with the Crescent Society also have helped increase the number of $1,000 gifts. The Palmetto Society thus far has 117 members, up 22 percent from last year. Sherard is reminded of the expression, “a rising tide lifts all boats,” illustrating that the Crescent Society has helped other levels of giving.
Other positive factors include the entry here of Publix and other new businesses, as well as increased giving by established businesses. Growth in revenue, in opportunities to serve and in volunteer support, work together to meet growing needs.