The two United Way fundraising drives that help fund more than 60 nonprofits enter the last months of fundraising with leaders confident about reversing the downward trend that has kept the totals short of the goals.
The United Way of Horry County on Monday reported $1,157,333.42 raised or pledged – 91 percent of the $1.275 million goal. The Black River United Way, which serves Georgetown and Williamsburg counties, has $315,000 (60 percent) of the $500,000 goal, plus another $25,000 in matching funds from the Frances P. Bunnelle Foundation.
Both United Way organizations experienced shortfalls in fundraising for their partner agencies following the economic recession after 2008 even as many nonprofits providing basic safety net help experienced increased demand.
“We’re giving it our all,” says Genie Sherard, president of the United Way of Horry County. Sherard recently called on a new company and on a donor who had not given in six years and is now again an active donor. These two examples illustrate the approach of Sherard and campaign chairperson Lisa Bourcier. “We’ve got to have new dollars” in the last two months of the campaign as well as contacting folks who have made contributions in past years.
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On Monday, Bourcier wrote 35 letters to potential contributors. “We’ve done hundreds,” she says. “We’re still contacting [potential] new contributors.” Employee drives at two hospital systems, Conway and McLeod (Loris and Little River) are positive factors toward an ultimately successful campaign.
Sherard and Bourcier compared the final weeks of the campaign to a weight loss program. Just as the last few pounds may be the toughest to shed on a diet, “those last few dollars are the hardest.”
“We feel totally confident ... that we’ll stop the downward trend and start back up,” Sherard says.
At the Black River United Way, executive director Lucy Woodhouse is new to the job, as is Sherard. For 44 years, Woodhouse’s organization was the Georgetown County United Way. Black River has a new fundraising opportunity in the Bunnelle Foundation program, which will match up to $100,000 in new contributions.
“We have a lot of `asks’ out,” Woodhouse says, which should increase the $25,000 already committed. She has been spending time on groundwork for that program as well as in Kingstree, the Williamsburg county seat. The name was changed in part to be more inclusive of Williamsburg.
Black River United Way has six new board members. Also, the Rotary Club of Andrews is sponsoring, with Black River, a business leaders luncheon in that Georgetown County community.
Weather kept Woodhouse and Sherard from attending a United Way conference for new executives but they participated via the Internet.
“It’s been been really rewarding,” Bourcier says of her chairperson experience, with two months officially remaining. Residents of Georgetown, Horry and Williamsburg counties who have not yet contributed to the United Way are encouraged to make send a check or make a pledge. If you’ve not been asked formally, consider this your invitation.
As Sherard says, “We want so badly to make it for the community.”