United Way celebrates “a great first half,” with more work ahead before fundraising drive ends

United Way President Bryce Haugsdahl (left), General Campaign Chairman John Crowe (center) and Sr. V.P. of Fundraising Faye Carter (right) led United Way staff, Loaned Executives and volunteers in a review of reports from this year's United Way fundraising drive yesterday.

“This has been a great first half, but we know the second half is the toughest part of this drive. Let’s make sure the second half goes as well as the first half,” said John Crowe, United Way of the Mid-South’s General Campaign Chairman.

As Chairman, Crowe is leading an army of United Way staff, Loaned Executives and volunteers from across the region in United Way’s fundraising drive this year. Crowe is President and CEO of Buckeye Technologies, Inc.

Crowe reflected on the drive’s progress during a weekly meeting at United Way which reviews the fundraising results of the regional campaign. These “campaign countdown meetings” help the team measure how well the drive is going as individual divisions provide reports of fundraising successes.

While the drive officially ends in February next year, United Way’s fundraising effort in our community traditionally raises the majority of funds during the months of September, October, November and December. With the final days of October fast approaching, Crowe’s observations of this time of year marking a “halfway point” were very fitting.

Unicco's fundraising for United Way has seen a big increase this year. Guests from Unicco at yesterday's meeting: (from left) Connie Simms, United Way Loaned Executive Chuck Crawford, Kwanda Boyd and Samantha Haralson

United Way’s fundraising results to date are favorable, with the weekly total slightly higher than it was at this point last year. Since many contributing organizations are raising funds during different calendar weeks than they did last year, weekly results are not always “apples-to-apples” comparable with last year’s results. United Way staff who review the progress of the overall regional drive are happy that this year’s campaign is on very solid footing.

“We’re off to a great start, and we have to play all the way down the field until we reach the goal,” Crowe said.

Highlights from the meeting included FedEx Loaned Executive Stefanie Schwegman’s report that a recent FedEx Tocqueville Society dinner has led to additional employees joining the prestigious group (Society members contribute $10,000 or more to United Way in a single year). She also reported that the FedEx 5K Run/Walk was a great success Sunday at Shelby Farms with over 400 people participating in the excitement. The area’s largest employer will feature an online auction and additional Tocqueville Society meetings this week.

Unicco, an independent company within the Cargill organization that is in charge of safety and cleanliness, received recognition for a big increase in its donations to United Way. Last year Unicco’s campaign had 11 givers who raised $2,644. This year, more people at Unicco have joined the effort there are now more than 40 givers, many at leadership levels ($500 or more), for over $26,000. Guests from Unicco at yesterday’s meeting included Connie Simms (personnel coordinator), Kwanda Boyd (office manager) and Samantha Haralson (administrative assistant).

Ira Poole from AT&T Moble (center, blue shirt) with United Way staff and Loaned Executives. Poole shared details about AT&T's "shortened" campaign that nonetheless raised great results for our community

AT&T Distribution Center had a great fundraising drive this year and special guest Ira Poole, Slotting Manager with AT&T Mobile, gave a report on the campaign’s results at the meeting. Poole shared how AT&T’s campaign was shorter this year, but through using a variety of different fundraising ideas it was a strong success, surpassing the company goal and raising over $16,000.

Poole credits the rise in campaign dollars to online pledging, a yearly campaign kickoff meeting and a carnival where employees had the opportunity to dunk managers or throw pies in the faces of their managers.

“We encouraged managers and employees alike to participate,” Poole said. “We also had a car wash and regular hot dog cook-offs. Even though our time to raise money was cut short this year, we were still able to beat our goal of $15,400.”

Walt Clark, with the Combined Federal Campaign, reported that despite challenges of downsizing in U.S. postal centers, there is still an increase in giving from the postal workers.

“We are so happy to report this increase,” Clark said. “These are dedicated folks that work for the postal service.”

The team also celebrated the news that First Tennessee Bank’s campaign has set a goal of $2 million this year. First Tennessee has been United Way’s second-largest campaign for many years. Staff and Loaned Executives shared that First Tennessee had a very memorable kickoff, loaded with lots of laughs thanks to a humorous video featuring bank leaders.

Reports also featured campaigns which are kicking off this week or later this month, including Kellogg’s Plant in Rossville, TN, ServiceMaster, and Buckeye Technologies.

Staff also shared the great news that Belz Enterprises will increase its corporate gift this year, reaching a new high at $110,000.

John Crowe with Loaned Executive Kevin Park (right) review the strong result from the Professionals division

Divisional Wrapup: Data from these divisions was particularly impressive: Professionals 11 raised a tremendous 1,914% of its goal for the week (division chairmen Bill Drummond, Matt Stone, Steve Dean, Scott Barry, Sheila Jordan Cunningham, Marko Rajamaa, Beth Welter, Mark Allen), Agencies 8 raised 118% of goal thanks to giving from Youth Villages, Exchange Clubs and the Boy Scouts of America, Chickasaw Council (division chairmen Sean Lee, Robert Houget, Mark Dean), Commercial 6 was at 115% of goal and reported that the campaign at Lucite is off to a very strong start (division chairmen Bruce Efird, Ursula Roman, Alvin Pearson, Chuck Thomas, Brienne Smith, Jane Kerr, Charles Aiken), Major Firms 3A surpassed its weekly goal at 114% and reported that the AutoZone campaign is going well thanks in part to agency touring (division chairmen Bill Giles, Kris Matula, Bob Caporale), Tate County 15 D raised 108.1% of its weekly goal (division chairmen Greg Gough, Suzy Hawkins), Individuals/Direct Mail 16 continues to show strong results with 107.2%, Major Firms 3C reported 106.4% of its weekly goal thanks to work underway at Baptist Hospital. The division also welcomes back Delta Medical this year (division chairmen Dr. Reginald Coopwood, Doug Dowdell), Government 7A-J noted that MLG&W held a United Way basketball tournament last weekend. The 7A division raised 105% of its weekly goal (division chairmen George Little, Quinton Robinson, Von Goodloe, Keith McDonald, Eva Mosby, Walter Crews), Education 5C-F reached 103% of its goal and announced that Southern College of Optometry will conclude its campaign drive soon (division chairmen Kathy Buckman Gibson, Paul Horn, Sharon Jones, Mike Tebbe), Services 4B reached 102.8% of its goal (division chairmen Lee Meredith, Dan Marks), Unions 10 was at 102.2% of goal, (division chairman Irvin Calliste), Fayette 14A reported 102% (division chairman David Crislip), and Major Firms 3B came in at 101% of goal (division chairman Joe DiNicolantonio).

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