Editorial | New focus for fund drive

07/29/2014 4:12 PM

07/30/2014 6:11 AM

Leading the annual fundraising campaign of the United Way of Horry County is a big job and it’s not surprising that the campaign chairwoman acknowledges feeling “a little nervous.” Lisa H. Bourcier, public information director for Horry County government, is well aware that the most recent campaign fell short of the $1.275 million goal, resulting in reduced allocations to many agencies.

The reductions mean that the nonprofit agencies, if they are to maintain vital services, have to step up their own fundraising which can in turn hurt the United Way campaign. It’s far better for everyone – the nonprofits and the people they serve, the thousands of folks who faithfully support the community partners – if the United Way makes its goal.

That has not happened in recent fund drives, largely because of the lingering effects of the recession of 2008. The 2013-14 drive finished at $1.22 million, 93 percent of the goal. By contrast, the 2007-08 campaign raised $1.49 million, over its goal of $1.475 million.

So the challenge for Bourcier and new United Way President Genie Sherard is to be innovative and aggressive enough to raise at least 100 percent of the $1.275 million goal.

They have a plan.

The new campaign will start Sept. 12 with a blitz that will continue through Dec. 12. “People can expect their phones to start ringing,” Bourcier says. “The first phoneathon will be on Sept. 12,” the annual Day of Caring which is the traditional fundraising kickoff. The campaign will end April 30, 2015, and funds coming in after that will go to the next drive.

“We’re hoping to get a majority of the funds” by Dec. 12, Bourcier says, but “some corporate drives we can’t control” so the drive continues after the Christmas-New Year break. Contributions from payroll deductions remain an important part of United Way revenue.

Bourcier has her “campaign cabinet all picked out” – volunteers who head the various divisions of the campaign. The United Way Community Outreach Council, including several key business and professional leaders, is reorganizing and refocusing. “I think we’ll have good things come from that, including agency support, volunteer opportunities and fundraising support.”

Pacesetters, pre-kickoff campaigns done by several companies, are well under way, Bourcier says, and “we’re seeing very positive responses. We’re excited about that.” The campaign will continue to expand the increased emphasis on the residential segment, to appeal to new residents who likely have long supported United Ways through employment in other locations but have retired.

The Richmond, Va., native has had an area connection from her grandmother’s Marion roots and family vacations. Bourcier moved to the area 19 years ago and was a radio show cohost and worked in public relations before joining the county in 2000. She’s represented the county on the United Way board for several years.

“New strategies, new opportunities, new focus” sum up Bourcier’s turn as chairwoman of United Way fundraising efforts. Our greater community seriously needs a successful campaign and we urge maximum participation in money and time by businesses, civic groups and individuals.

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