Nonprofit news roundup, 07.25.14

North Carolina trails 33 states in child well-being

North Carolina ranks 34th among the states in overall child well-being, a new study says.

The state’s ranking is based on combination of rankings in categories that affect children, including 38th in economic well-being, 28th in education, 32nd in health, and 36th in family and community, according to the 2014 Kids Count report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

In North Carolina, for example, 26 percent of children lived in poverty in 2012, up from 21 percent in 2005 and compared to 23 percent throughout the U.S., the report says.

Sixty-six percent of North Carolina fourth graders were not proficient in reading in 2013, down from 70 percent in 2005, and compared to 65 percent throughout the U.S., and 19 percent of high school students were not graduating on time in 2011-12, down from 27 percent in 2005-06, and compared to 21 percent throughout the U.S.

Among new babies in North Carolina, 8.8 percent were born with low birthweight in 2012, down from 9.2 percent in 2012 and compared to 8 percent throughout the U.S.

And 37 percent of North Carolina children lived in single-parent families in 2012, up from 34 percent in 2005 and compared to 35 percent throughout the U.S.

Autism Society gets $50,000 to expand employment support

The Autism Society of North Carolina has been awarded a $50,000 grant from The Walmart Foundation to help expand its program that provides employment support for adults with autism.

The program will serve 85 adults with autism in Alamance, Chatham, Cumberland, Davidson, Durham, Forsyth, Guilford, Orange, Randolph, and Wake counties, and will include work-readiness evaluations, transition-to-employment training, job search, on-the-job training, ongoing job supports, and monthly support group meetings.

Triad selected for launch of food-donation app will launch the beta version of its grocery savings and food donation app in the Triad later this year, and has created an informal partnership with Greensboro Urban Ministry to design the food assistance app.

The company has developed specifications for the app and on July 15 launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to complete the project.

Beth Livingston of Greensboro is founder of MaxMyShopping, which is a subsidiary of Rock High Development, a limited liability corporation registered in North Carolina.

Newman to head American Medical Association Alliance

Julie Newman, immediate past president of the board of directors of the Alice Aycock Poe Center for Health Education in Raleigh, has been named president-elect of the American Medical Association Alliance.

Evia-Lanevi joins American Immigration Council board

Diane Evia-Lanevi, founder and advisory board chair for The Tomorrow Fund for Hispanic Students, has joined the board of trustees of the American Immigration Council, a national network of physicians and physicians’ spouses.

Visitors to national parks in North Carolina spend $1 billion

Over 16.1 million visitors to national parks in North Carolina spent over $1 billion and supported nearly 15,500 jobs in the state in 2013, a new study says.

The report, conducted by U.S. Geological Survey economists, shows $14.6 billion of direct spending throughout the U.S. by 273.6 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park.

That spending supported over 237,000 jobs and had a cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy of $26.5 billion, the report says.

The report says national park tourism returns $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service.

Sculpture recognizes Rotary’s 50 years in Cary

A new sculpture outside the Cary Chamber of Commerce commemorating the 50th anniversary of Rotary in Cary will be dedicated on August 1. The five-sided granite structure represents the five Rotary Clubs in Cary.

Greensboro event to focus on minority business

North Carolina’s second annual Statewide Minority Enterprise Development Week will be held September 11 in Greensboro.

Sponsors of the event, to be held from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. at the Alumni Foundation Event Center at N.C. A&T University, is expected to attract hundreds of business leaders.

The event will be hosted by the North Carolina Institute for Minority Enterprise Development and the North Carolina Minority Women’s Business Enterprise Coordinators’ Network.

Insurance industry golf event raises $27,000

The inaugural golf tournament sponsored by Community Matters, a group of Charlotte insurance-industry companies that raises money to benefit charity, raised over $27,000. Proceeds will go to Charlotte Family Housing and Crisis Assistance Ministry and their work to prevent homelessness.

UNC gets $297.5 million

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill attracted $297.5 million in private gifts and grants in fiscal 2014, up 9 percent from fiscal 2013 and marking the school’s second-best year ever.

Commitments, including pledges and gifts, grew to $310 million, also up 9 percent, and helped create five endowed professorships, and 58 undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships.

Duke gets $3 million gift

Duke University has received a $3 million gift from alumna Bettye Martin Musham to establish a directorship for Islamic studies.

The gift will fund the William and Bettye Martin Musham Director for Islamic Studies. The director will oversee the Duke Islamic Studies Center, which focuses on teaching, learning and research about Islam and Muslim communities.

Compass Center consolidating offices

Compass Center for Women and Families is merging its office locations in the wake of the  July 1, 2012, merger of The Women’s Center and the Family Violence Prevention Center of  Orange County.

Effective August 6, Compass Center will serve clients at 210 Henderson St. in Chapel Hill.

All phone numbers and the agency’s domestic violence hotline number will remain the same.

BB&T teams with InterAct

Associates from BB&T Wealth in the Triangle volunteered on June 11 at the Family Safety and Empowerment Center for InterAct in Raleigh, assembling new picnic tables and sports and playground equipment, refinishing existing outdoor furniture, and spreading mulch.

Build communications planning into your routine

Communicating effectively is hard work, and it takes a lot of planning on a regular basis.

Whether you do it in-house or hire a consultant to help you, developing a communications strategy or plan is just the beginning.

A communications plan guides you in deciding your message and story; the audiences you want to reach; the materials and content you will need; and the process, responsibilities and schedule for producing your materials and content.

While your plan is a guide, it needs constant guidance, oversight and adjustment. Circumstances change. Unanticipated events, opportunities and problems arise. You need to be prepared.

Who is responsible for communications at your nonprofit? Does that person report directly to the CEO? If not, to what extent is the CEO involved in thinking and making decisions about communications? What is the board’s role? Does it have a standing communications committee, or a committee that has communications as part of its responsibilities?

While each nonprofit needs to find its own answers, it should have a plan that addresses those kinds of questions.

Effective communications is fundamental to the way nonprofits operate their organizations, deliver services, raise money, collaborate with other organizations, and advocate for their cause.

So it’s important to give your communications a high priority, and to make sure your staff and board are closely involved in developing your communications strategy and overseeing it on an ongoing basis.

Want help?

Philanthropy North Carolina is a consulting practice that provides writing and strategic communications support for nonprofits, foundations, colleges and universities, and others working for social good.

To find out more about hiring Philanthropy North Carolina to work with your organization to improve your communications, contact Todd Cohen at 919.272.2051 or

Duke scholar uses stories to help lift girls out of poverty

By Todd Cohen

DURHAM, N.C. — Deborah Hicks was the first person in her family to go to college.

Born in Memphis, Tenn., Hicks at age five moved to Transylvania County in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina with her mother, a homemaker, and her father, who worked at a mountaintop tracking station and then as a television repairman.

Landing a scholarship from the American Association of University Women, Hicks attended Brevard College, earning a two-year degree, then graduated from the University of Northern Arizona after her parents moved to Arizona.

She went on to receive a doctorate in education from Harvard University, where her dissertation focused on children’s storytelling.

Now, as founder and executive director of the Partnership for Appalachian Girls’ Education, or PAGE, Hicks is working to give other girls the same opportunities she had.

“We’re trying to help Appalachian people create stronger futures and lift themselves out of poverty though education,” says Hicks, who also is a research scholar at the Social Science Research Institute at Duke and, through Duke’s Bass Connections initiative, heads an interdisciplinary project on education and economic inequality in Appalachia.

PAGE, a partnership of Duke and the Madison County Public Schools, builds on a strategy known as the “girl effect,” Hicks says.

“If you invest in the education of an adolescent girl, you have a ripple effect throughout the whole community,” she says. “When she finishes high school and goes to college and builds a career, she will make sure her children are educated, and then you will have generational change, with whole families and communities finding their own pathways to college and careers.”

Now in its fifth summer, PAGE sends seven Duke undergraduates to serve as mentors for teenage girls in Madison County, including 50 middle-school students and two high-school interns who would be the first in their families to go to college. The high-school interns, who are mentored on preparing for college, in turn serve as mentors for the middle-school students.

The free summer program, consisting of two sessions of three weeks each, focuses on literacy skills, critical thinking and leadership. The girls read novels, and participate in book-group discussions led by the Duke undergrads. They take photographs and create digital stories. And they participate in traditional camp activities such as arts, crafts, canoeing, hiking and field trips.

Of the two high school interns who participated a year ago, one will enroll this fall at UNC-Chapel Hill and the other has enrolled at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College in Asheville.

PAGE now plans to become a separate nonprofit with a board that can help it raise money to support its $200,000 annual operating budget. PAGE gets most of its funding from private donors, and some grants from the Appalachian Regional Commission and funds housed at the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina.

As a young woman, Hicks says, she was inspired by Christy, a young-adult novel about a young woman who goes to the mountains to teach.

“Appalachia has persistent and intergenerational areas of poverty,” she says. “So we’re focusing on investment in the education of girls.”

Fundraising success linked to annual drives

Charities in the U.S. and Canada with formal annual fundraising drives are more likely to hit their fundraising goals than those without formal annual drives, a new study says.

And among larger charities, those with gift clubs that recognize different gift amounts are most likely to meet fundraising goals, says the “Nonprofit Fundraising Survey — Special Report about Annual Funds” from the Nonprofit Research Collaborative.

Annual funds’ impact

Among 945 charities that responded to an online survey in August and September about fundraising results from the first half of 2013 compared with 2012, and about annual fund drives, 70 percent have an annual fund, and 77 percent of those are meeting goals, compared with 57 percent of those without an annual fund, regardless of the size of the organization.

“This finding suggests that organizations focusing primarily on major gifts, without also having an annual fund campaign, might be at risk of missing their fundraising goals in the long run,” Eva Aldrich, president and CEO of CFRE International, which awards the Certified Fund Raising Executive credential, or CRFE, says in a statement.

Donor retention

Charities that retain half or more of their donors from the previous year are more likely to meet their fundraising goals and more likely to raise more than they did the previous year, the study says.

And charities to which more than 5 percent of donors give a higher amount than they did the previous year are more likely to meet fundraising goals and more likely to raise more this year than last year in their annual fund, the study says.

Gift clubs

Among charities with annual budgets of $1 million or more that have named gift clubs that recognized gift amounts, 79 percent are meeting fundraising goals, compared to 65 percent without gifts clubs.

But gift club benefits, when offered, make little difference in meeting fundraising goals.

Annual drives

Fifty-eight percent of charities responding to the survey increased funds raised in the first half of 2013, compared with a year earlier.

While 70 percent of respondents have an annual fund drive, annual funds are more common as the annual budget increases up to $10 million or more.

And having an annual fund is associated with being “on track to meet the current year’s fundraising goals,” the study says, it is likely there also is a relationship between planning for fundraising and having an annual fund.

It says a previous study by the Nonprofit Research Collaborative found a connection between having a board-developed fundraising plan and meeting fundraising goals.

And while annual funds are more common as the size of an organization’s budget increases, the likelihood of having an annual fund varies by subsector.

More than 80 percent of arts and religious organizations have annual fund campaigns, compared with 52 percent of organizations in the public-society benefit sector, which includes United Ways, community foundations and freestanding sponsors of donor advised funds such as Fidelity Charitable or the National Philanthropic Trust.

Retention rates

The Fundraising Effectiveness Project, separate research by the the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the Urban Institute, shows declining renewal rates among all donors, including those to annual funds, in 2,840 organizations participating through 2012, the study says.

In the Nonprofit Research Collaborative survey, in contrast, among 88 percent of those with an annual fund that reported tracking renewal rates, 12 percent reported renewals of less than 50 percent, 13 percent reported renewals of 50 percent to 60 percent, and 63 percent said 60 percent or more of their donors renewed their annual fund gift in the most recent year.

The big differences in renewal rates in the Nonprofit Research Collaborative survey with those in the Fundraising Effectiveness Project, suggest that charities that participated in the two studies differ in material ways.

High renewal rates are associated with increased contributions to the annual fund overall, the study says, and organizations with a renewal rate of less than 50 percent of the previous year’s donors have a markedly lower probability of seeing increased funds raised in the current year.

Annual fund upgrades

Among 78 percent of respondents with an annual fund that track “upgrades,” or  gifts in the current year that were higher than the amount the same donor gave the previous year, the biggest share, or 36 percent, reported that 5 percent to 10 percent of their donors upgraded gifts the previous year.

For those with upgrade rates of 5.1 percent or more, over half the organizations saw growth in the amounts received while organizations with upgrades by 5 percent or fewer donors were less likely to report an increase in annual fund receipts.

Yet, when the share of donors increasing their annual fund gift grows by even a few percentage points, the organization is more likely to be on track to meet its fundraising goals, with 5 percent serving as the “breakpoint.”

Gift clubs’ impact

Sixty-five percent of charities responding to the survey reported having different donors levels or named gift clubs, which seem to be associated with greater probability of being on track to meet fundraising goals this fiscal year, the study says.

Charities with larger budgets are more likely to have annual funds, more likely to have gift clubs and, if they have both, more likely to be on track to meet goals.

While 36 percent of charities with annual budgets of less than $1 million that have an annual fund also have gift clubs, or 20 percent of all small charities, the study says, there is no statistically significant difference in reaching their goal with our without gift clubs or giving levels, the study says.

In meeting fundraising goals, it says, smaller organizations may face other challenges, such as to few paid fundraising staff; less engagement by board members; staff members who are newer to fundraising; or a disproportionately high share of funding from government, foundation grants or other sources not connected to individual fund drives.

Gift level benefits

Forty-two percent of respondents with annual funds offer donor benefits based on giving level.

Among respondents with annual funds that offer donor benefit, 56 percent offer special events organized exclusively for donors, often those above a specific giving level, while 24 percent offered exclusive or privileged access to the organization’s leadership or personnel.

Membership benefits

In addition to gift clubs, the study says, some charities offer memberships.

Twenty-four percent of respondents with an annual fund also offered memberships with benefits. That group included 57 percent of arts organizations with an annual fund, and 54 percent of environmental organizations with an annual fund.

And among 251 charities offering gift club benefits, 54 also offered membership levels.

Arts organizations have the largest share, with both memberships and giving clubs.

The study finds no clear relationship between offering membership benefits and being more or less likely to meet fundraising goals.

Among all organizations offering memberships, 65 percent offering member benefits were meeting fundraising goals, compared to 60 percent of those with no benefits tied to membership.

“Offering membership benefits may help attract more members,” the study says, “but it is not linked here with fundraising results, whether meeting goals, raising more money, donor retention, or donor upgrades.”

Good stewardship practices, it says, “may be as important, or even more important, in supporting annual fund results than are tangible items or even experiential benefits such as donor-only events.”

 – Todd Cohen

Nonprofit news roundup, 07.18.14

Goal for new UNC-Chapel Hill campaign could total $4 billion

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is preparing for a comprehensive fundraising campaign that could total as much as $4 billion, Business North Carolina reports.

Roger Perry, former chairman of the school’s board of trustees and a Chapel Hill developer, tells the magazine UNC is raising $250 million to $300 million a year but needs to be raising $350 million to $400 million.

The state provided 18 percent of UNC’s total revenue in 2013, down from 27 percent six years ago, the magazine says.

It says David Routh, UNC’s fundraising chief, envisions an eight-year campaign, including a two-year silent phase, when a quarter of the goal is typically pledged.

Foundation for Charlotte Jewish Community raises $9 million

Annual gifts to funds at Foundation for the Charlotte Jewish Community totaled just over $9 million in 2013, up from $8.4 million in 2012, its annual report says.

Net assets at the Foundation, which was formed in 1997 and is part of Foundation for the Carolinas and has its own board, grew to $97.9 million from $79.2 million.

Annual grants and distributions from funds at Foundation for the Charlotte Jewish Community totaled $2.8 million, down from $3.1 million in 2012.

Over the past five years, the share of assets the Foundation manages in donor advised funds has grown to 69.7 percent from 53 percent.

Over the same period, assets of the Foundation have doubled. And since 2010, gifts to existing and new funds at the Foundation have exceeded $8 million a year.

Foundation for the Charlotte Jewish Community also secured 98 legacy commitments in 2013 totaling an estimated $5.5 million from individuals and families to one or more Jewish organizations, up from $1.3 million in 2012.

The Foundation now is aware of legacy commitments totaling over $20 million.

Through additional support from the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, the Jewish Foundation will award incentive grants totaling $81,000 to each of the 10 community partner organizations of its Create Your Jewish Legacy program.

Fidelity Charitable, Schwab Charitable report growth

Fidelity Charitable and Schwab Charitable, two national donor advised funds, say grants from donors’ fund grew in the fiscal year that ended June 30.

Fidelity Charitable distributed nearly $2.3 billion in grants on behalf of donors in the fiscal year, up 23 percent from the previous fiscal year.

Donors contributed $3.9 billion to their donor advised funds, up 8 percent.

In the first six months of 2014, Fidelity Charitable says, it distributed over 250,000 grants recommended by donors that totaled nearly $1.1 billion, up 19 percent from grants it distributed in the first six months of 2013.

Donors contributed nearly $1.2 billion to Fidelity Charitable in the first six months of 2014, up 33 percent from the same period a year earlier, and the number of new charitable  accounts grew 41 percent.

Established in 1991, Fidelity Charitable has helped donors support over 180,000 nonprofits with nearly $17 billion in grants. Its assets under management totaled $12.9 billion on June 30.

Schwab Charitable says individuals holding funds granted $822 million in fiscal 2014 to over 34,500 charities, with the total value of those grants growing 38 percent from the previous year, when grants grew 10 percent.

The number of accounts at Schwab Charitable grew 17 percent in fiscal 2014, and assets under management totaled $6.4 billion on June 30.

Schwab Charitable has received over $9.8 billion in contributions and facilitated over $4.4 billion in grants to charities on behalf of its donors since it was formed in 1999.

Stolen promoted at CPCC Foundation

Vanessa Shelton Stolen, director of development and institutional advancement at the CPCC Foundation at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, has been named the Foundation’s executive director institutional advancement.

Winston-Salem Foundation awards scholarships

The Winston-Salem Foundation has awarded 158 merit-based scholarships for the 2014-15 school year.  Over the past five years, the Foundation has given over $1 million in financial aid to local students.

ArtsGreensboro gets $100,000 grant

ArtsGreensboro has received a $100,000 “Our Town” grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for its Fabric of Freedom initiative, a multidisciplinary arts festival within the National Folk Festival that will highlight Greensboro’s leadership role in Americans’ quest for freedom and will be held in September 2015, 2016, and 2017.

Raleigh Rotary to celebrate 100th anniversary

The Rotary Club of Raleigh, North Carolina’s oldest civic organization, will celebrate its 100-year anniversary with a gala on August 1 at the Raleigh Convention Center.

The event will event will attended by Gov. Pat McCrory and Gary C.K. Huang of Taiwan, president of Rotary International, and will include a vignette by the Burning Coal Theater Company comparing a Rotary member from 1914 to one from today.

Triangle YMCA gears teens for college

YMCA of the Triangle hosted a day of college preparation for over 500 teens on July 17.

The YMCA’s the annual Clarence E. Lightner Y Achievers College Day, held at the McKimmon Center at North Carolina State University, included college prep workshops and mock college interviews.

During the 2013-14 academic year, 125 middle-school and high-school students participated in the Clarence E. Lightner Y Achievers program, which included community service projects and leadership-skills training.

Boundless Impact to hold global summit

Boundless Impact will host its inaugural Global Opportunities Summit on September 30 in the Triangle.

The event, to be held from 8 a.m. to noon at the North Carolina Biotech Center’s Hamner Conference Center, will convene leaders from business, economic development, education, government and nonprofits to create a global vision for Triangle.

Keynote speakers will be Madhu Beriwal, CEO of IEM, and Geoffrey Lang, vice president and general manager of global technology and operations at MetLife.

Methodist Home elects two board members

Chris McClure of Raleigh, government relations and policy advisor at Brooks Pierce, and Andy Willis of Cary, senior advisor to the CEO for the University of North Carolina Health Care System, have been elected to the board of directors of the Methodist Home for Children in Raleigh.

Bar Association gives $134,000

The North Carolina Bar Association Foundation has awarded 20 endowment grants totaling $134,107. The funding includes 15 statewide grants and five local and regional grants, including two local projects in Raleigh and one each in Charlotte, Winston-Salem and Turkey, N.C.

The grants support one judicial project, eight legal services projects, one law school clinic, three student mock trial competitions, two scholarship programs.

Since 1988, 596 endowment grants totaling over $4.7 million have been awarded.

Charlotte insurance-industry golf event to benefit cause of homelessness

Community Matters: Insurance Partners of Charlotte will hold its inaugural golf tournament at Pine Lake Country Club on July 21, with golfers bringing clothing and household items for individuals and families in need.

Preventing and addressing homelessness is the group’s goal this year. Its charity partners are Charlotte Family Housing and Crisis Assistance Ministry.

Smithfield gets $350,000 grant to build park, ball field

The Town of Smithfield was awarded a $350,000 grant from the North Carolina Parks and Recreation Trust Fund build a large natural park that allows children of all abilities to play together, and a baseball field designed for children with special needs.  With groundbreaking to begin in August, the park and ball field will be the only recreational space of its kind in Johnston County.

Mullen to head Innovation Institute at McColl Center

Sheila Mullen, a former business consultant and IBM executive, has been named director of the Innovation Institute at the McColl Center for Art + Innovation in Charlotte.

Mullen, who for six years has served on board of directors of the McColl Center, and chaired it in 2013, most recently was an executive consultant and wellbeing coach through her business, Continuous Motion Consulting.

Economic Developers Association elects president

C. Michael Smith, executive director of Statesville Regional Development, has been elected president of the North Carolina Economic Developers Association.

BCC Rally to benefit fight against breast cancer

BCC Rally, an all-volunteer nonprofit that raises funds and awareness to fight breast cancer, will host its 11th annual weeklong series of fundraising events Sept. 21-27 at Ballantyne Country Club in Charlotte. The series will feature a new event called Denim & Diamonds.

John Rex Endowment awards $1.25 million

The John Rex Endowment in Raleigh has awarded six three-year grants totaling over $1.25 million to the Wake County municipalities of Fuquay-Varina, Garner, Knightdale, Morrisville, Raleigh and Zebulon to create healthier environments for children by increasing access to healthy foods and active living opportunities.

Create a speech on a community issue

To help raise awareness about the need your nonprofit addresses, develop a speech that your CEO and board chair can deliver at civic events in your community.

Rather than touting your own nonprofit’s work and the difference you make, focus on a community problem, its causes and symptoms, and strategies and partnerships that are showing success in improving the lives of people affected by it.

Pressing community problems can be complex, often with deep roots and intertwined causes, and can be tough for people to understand.

So be clear about the genesis of the problem, its direct effect on people, and its indirect effect and implications for the community overall.

Help your audience understand the human cost of the problem. Give specific examples. Details matter.

Then book your CEO and board chair to speak at community events.

By speaking publicly about your cause, you will help raise awareness about an important community issue, become part of the community conversation, and help win supporters and partners for your organization.

Want help?

Philanthropy North Carolina is a consulting practice that provides writing and strategic communications support for nonprofits, foundations, colleges and universities, and others working for social good.

To find out more about hiring Philanthropy North Carolina to work with your organization to improve your communications, contact Todd Cohen at 919.272.2051 or

Alamance United Way aims to raise awareness

By Todd Cohen

BURLINGTON, N.C. — In the two years since she became the first director of community impact at United of Way of Alamance County, Heidi Norwick has been on a mission to build partnerships that focus on critical needs in the community.

Now, as its new president, Norwick aims to keep United Way in conversations and planning on community priorities, while also raising awareness about them helping the community understand the role United Way plays and its impact.

“We have a seat at important tables where problem-solving and the future of Alamance County is being discussed, and we want to continue to be that relevant organization that gathers resources from the community to help the community,” she says

Norwick, who served for 16 years as executive director of the Women’s Resource Center in Alamance County before joining United Way, became its president on July 1 to succeed Ronnie Wall, who also is Burlington’s mayor and resigned his United Way job.

A survey that North Star Marketing in Burlington conducted for United Way this spring found good public opinion of United Way but mixed understanding of its work.

Norwick says United Way will be working to continue to build community partnerships that focus on pressing issues; better engage volunteers and help them see United Way’s impact so they will invest their time and money; and use technology to share information about community needs and opportunities to get involved in fixing them.

In its 2013 annual fundraising campaign that began last fall and just ended, United Way raised nearly $1.7 million, falling short of its goal by less than $50,000.

Using funds raised in the campaign, which was chaired by Bill Gomory, senior vice president at BB&T, United Way will invest $656,000 in 40 health and human services programs at its 32 partner agencies, up from $606,000 last year.

In addition to supporting those programs, United Way has been involved in recent years in community initiatives that focus on hunger, children, education, homelessness and other issues related to poverty.

Nearly half the county’s population does not earn a living wage, Norwick says, and the unemployment rate is just over 6 percent among those actively looking for jobs.

“We have working class poor who get by, but there’s not enough to save money and really move forward,” she says. “We also hear from employers there are jobs but they need skilled workers to fill those jobs.”

For the past two years, United Way has administered the Voluntary Income Tax Assistance program, or VITA, that helps low-income people complete their tax returns and apply for refunds. This year, that effort generated over $300,000 in refunds.

After the shutdown last August of Loaves and Fishes, the county’s biggest food pantry, United Way compiled data on hunger in the county and convened meetings of other food pantries, churches and businesses.

In a county with an estimated 7,000 families a month turning to local food pantries, the Salvation Army has seen the number of families seeking food assistance surge to several thousand a month from several hundred, Norwick says.

United Way funded an additional position at Salvation Army to help handle the increase in demand, as well as an additional position at Allied Churches to handle higher demand at its pantry.

United Way also collected 70,000 pounds of food for the annual Stamp Out Hunger campaign sponsored by local postal workers.

In her role as director of community impact, Norwick has participated in the local homeless coalition, Children’s Executive Oversight Committee, and Vision Plan for Education.

Now, as it gears up for this fall’s campaign, to be chaired by Griffin McClure, owner of Green & McClure Furniture in Graham and America’s Best Mattress of North Carolina, United Way aims to focus its fundraising throughout the county and to work to engage more young professionals, Norwick says.

It has been talking with Elon University, Alamance-Burlington School System and Alamance County Area Chamber of Commerce on collaborating to better distribute information about volunteer opportunities and nonprofit services and job openings through the Community Council, a group United Way administers that includes a list serve and monthly meetings about community issues.

United Way also will be a using a new tagline — “What Our Community Needs … Is You” — that has been adopted by United Way Worldwide.

 “We want to continue to work with those partnerships we have with larger employers and small businesses, the faith community and every nook and cranny we can find,” Norwick says, “with the message of what we do and how we impact the lives of people in our community.”