Wednesday, October 29, 2003

United Way behind goals

By Robert Anglen
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[IMAGE] Kaitlin , 2 1/2, walks in her reverse walker with the help of her physical therapist, Bridget Sherman, at Redwood Rehabilitation Center in Fort Mitchell. Redwood, since 1956, has been one of many United Way beneficiaries.
(Gary Landers photo)
| ZOOM |
After cutting funds last year to nearly every United Way recipient in Cincinnati, organizers of the annual campaign drive estimate that they are 1 percent shy of making a $60.5 million goal.

With one day before this year's campaign officially ends, businesses around Greater Cincinnati are being asked to double-check donor cards, contact any new hires and squeeze out pledges from employees who don't normally give.

"We're doing everything we can ... to close the gap," said Carol Aquino, spokeswoman for the United Way of Greater Cincinnati.

The gap is minuscule compared with last year, when the United Way fell $1.8 million short of a $62 million goal - and it comes at a time when many major employers have scaled back work forces and people are giving less than ever in a weakened economy.

United Way supports 160 agencies across Greater Cincinnati that offer everything from Girl Scout troops to Goodwill day programs for the disabled to YMCA recreation leagues.

Cincinnati is the first major metropolitan area in the country to wrap up its fund-raising drive, with most following later in November and December. As campaigns wind down in Warren and Butler counties, organizers report mixed results: Warren is about 50 percent to its goal, and Butler surpassed last year's $2.5 million goal but is still short of the $3.2 million mark set for this year.

"We have raised substantially more than $2.5 million," said Butler's United Way president Maureen Noe. "We don't really set goals. We talk to the agencies we fund and find out what they need. Then we put together numbers."

To donate to your local United Way effort, check with your employer about in-house efforts.
Individual campaign contact information:
United Way of Greater Cincinnati:
Send a check or money order, payable to United Way of Greater Cincinnati, to: United Way of Greater Cincinnati, 2400 Reading Road, Cincinnati, OH 45202-1478
Donate online at
Butler County campaign:
Send a check or money order to Butler County United Way, 323 North Third Street, Hamilton, OH 45011
Warren County campaign:
Send a check or money order to Warren County United Way, 20 North Mechanic St., Lebanon, OH 45036
Call (513) 932-3987 for other ways to contribute.
The majority of donations - 80 percent - to Greater Cincinnati's campaign come from 200 local companies. The 1 percent from goal estimate includes $47.7 million already raised and commitments expected after the campaign ends.

The success story rests on strong contributions from employees at companies such as Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bank.

The bank surpassed its corporate United Way goal by at least 10 percent, said President George Schaefer, because its 7,700 local employees are pushed hard to participate.

"When you come to work here, at orientation, you are asked to become a fair-share contributor, whether you start in the mailroom or you are George Schaefer," Schaefer said. "People feel pretty good about contributing."

The United Way of Greater Cincinnati covers Hamilton, Clermont, Brown and Butler counties in Ohio, and Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties in Kentucky.

Barbara Howard of the Redwood Rehabilitation Center in Fort Mitchell said the United Way helps her agency provide education, therapy and nursing for adults and children with physical disabilities.

"We have been a United Way agency since 1956," Howard said. "We could not have met our mission and served the thousands that we have served over the years without them."

About 20 percent of Redwood's services are paid through the United Way. "Last year we served 600 people and provided 261,000 hours of education. Twenty percent of that is 52,000 hours of education," Howard said.

Redwood helps children learn to walk and teaches patients unable to use their hands how to operate a computer with eye movement.

That is what Schaefer tries to emphasize with his employees: United Way helps real people.

"You name it, our employees are touching these agencies," he said.

Keith Harrison, United Way campaign leader at Procter & Gamble, said planning for the next campaign starts almost as soon as the last one ends.

"Here at Procter we have faced the challenges of restructuring this year," Harrison said. "This has had two effects: Morale and enthusiasm ... and we went into this campaign with 10 percent less employees."

Harrison said Procter exceeded its goal mostly by coordinating events and campaign drives through individual offices and divisions of the company. For instance, the baby care division had a campaign different than the detergent division.

In one case, a top NASCAR driver made a presentation as part of a campaign drive, and then tickets were raffled to a NASCAR event.

Rather than try to get more out of fewer people, the company focused on broadening the base and finding people who had not donated before, Harrison said.

"Our (100) campaign coordinators have been extremely creative," he said. "I'm not surprised this year that a lot of companies had trouble this year. We would have, if we had not really hit it."


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