Triangle United Way chief retiring

By Todd Cohen

MORRISVILLE, N.C. — Craig Chancellor, who joined United Way of the Greater Triangle 10 years ago, will retire at the end of 2012.

United Way, which is assembling a search committee and will hire a consulting firm to assist with the search, likely will take four to six months to fill the  job, says John Anthony, United Way board chair and chief administrative officer at TrustAtlantic Bank in Raleigh.

“It’s an incredibly important hire for us,” he says.
The top qualifications for candidates will be nonprofit experience and a “proven record in the fundraising arena,” he says, citing an annual campaign that over the past four to five years has been “either flat or down in a market that is continuing to grow” in population.

In its annual campaign last fall, United Way raised $16.7 million, down from the $17.6 million it had raised the previous year, Chancellor says.

In his 10 years at Triangle United Way, the organization has raised over $170 million for human-services agencies, he says, an accomplishment he credits mainly to United Way’s success in generating gifts of $1,000 or more.

Those “leadership” gifts totaled $4.1 million in last fall’s campaign, or nearly one-fourth of total dollars raised, says Jim Green, senior vice president for resource development.

Anthony credits Chancellor with overseeing consolidation of the three United Way affiliates in Wake, Durham and Orange counties that merged in 1996, as well as the organization’s merger with the Johnston County affiliate in 2009.

Chancellor also was effective in overseeing an overhaul in the way United Way allocates its funds to its 82 partner agencies, Anthony says.

While United Way in the past typically would as a matter of course “certify” agencies it funded, he says, it now conducts a needs assessment of the community every year to determine the greatest human-services needs, then issues requests for proposals and awards funds to address those needs.

If agencies do not perform as promised based on agreed-upon metrics, he says, the results could “negatively impact their funding for the following year.”

Chancellor, who has worked for local United Way affiliates since 1975 starting in Columbus, Ohio, says that in addition to total dollars raised, a key accomplishment during his tenure in the Triangle has been the organization’s “Teaming for Technology” program that refurbishes donated computers before distributing them to local nonprofits and schools.

That program, which expects to process over 3,000 computers this year, represents the largest nonprofit program of its kind in the Southeast, and the largest United Way program of its kind in the U.S., he says.

Chancellor also cited a new initiative, known as “Poverty to Possibility,” that United Way launched quietly last summer.

The initiative, which focuses on affordable housing, financial literacy, and helping people build assets, already has received $750,000 in funding from United Way, which aims to raise $10 million for the effort over the next 10 years, Chancellor says.

He also says United Way has done a good job using social media such as Facebook and Twitter to raise money and communicate with donors.

While social media generated only $60,000 in last fall’s campaign, up from $40,000 the previous year, he says, online giving will continue to grow, particularly among younger donors.

Anthony says United Way faces some big challenges in growing its fundraising, much of which is generated through workplace campaigns at 800 employers in the region.

Workplace giving at the100 companies that give the most to United Way account for 80 percent of overall donations, Green says.

Yet the Raleigh-Durham area has 17,000 “small-to-medium-size businesses” with annual revenues between $2 million and $70 million, Anthony says.

“Those are the businesses we need to be tapping to do campaigns,” he says. “The difficulty for us has been getting in the door and getting these businesses to run a campaign.”

That is important, particularly to reach younger donors who are “electronically focused” and who prefer to go online to find and support causes they care about, Anthony says.

And United Way, which operates as a kind of “mutual fund” that supports a broad range of human-service needs, must be able to “get in front of those younger donors in order to explain the benefits of United Way,” he says.

“With employee campaigns,” he says, “we can physically get in front of them”.

Equally challenging for the new CEO, Anthony says, will be taking a hard look at United Way’s overall business model and helping to determine whether it needs to be tweaked or changed.

Another challenge will be helping United Way play more of a leadership role in the community, he says.

“We have the weight and stature to be more of a community leader among nonprofit agencies,” he says, “and to a certain extent we do a good job of that.”

He also says United Way will be working to find ways to best serve its range of “customers,” including donors, corporations, partners agencies, and the people those agencies serve.

Chancellor, who says he hopes after his retirement to “stay in the workforce in some capacity,” says United Way plays a key role in the community.

“We continue to make a difference in people’s lives,” he says, “because we fund programs that get real results.”

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