Originally created 11/19/96

United Way meets anonymous donor challenge



When the United Way of the CSRA kicked off its campaign Sept. 16, it had added incentive to explore a previously untapped resource in the community.

An anonymous donor pledged to match up to $100,000 all new and increased leadership gifts (gifts of $500 or more annually). On Monday, the organization announced that it had met and exceeded that challenge.

"We really want to let this person know we're thankful," said Keith Benson, the chief professional officer of the United Way.

As of Monday, the organization had raised $122,763 in new or increased leadership gifts, and 263 new leadership givers had been added to the rolls. Three of those gifts were above the $10,000 mark.

Mr. Benson said he did not have a figure regarding those who had pledged to increase their leadership gifts.

In 1995, leadership gifts amounted to $282,348. Of those gifts $218,100 were at the $500 to $999 level; however, nationally, the leadership gift threshold is $1,000. In Augusta, last year, only $64,248, or 2.08 percent, of the amount raised came from leadership gifts above the national starting point.

"What we've realized is that leadership giving is an essential element to a successful campaign," Mr. Benson said.

In other communities, leadership giving is significant. Last year, in Columbus, Ga., $1.13 million of its $4.15 million total came from gifts above $1,000, and in Savannah, $976,935 of the $5.802 million it raised came from leadership gifts.

The United Way, which serves 32 health and human service organizations in the Augusta area, is only a few days from ending its 1996 capital campaign and is still short of its $3.4 million goal.

On Monday, it had raised $3,104,410 - 91.3 percent.

"We've been pulling a lot of rabbits out of the hat this year, and we need one more," he said.

On Thursday, the United Way will let Augusta know if it was able to pull off that magic trick. The end of campaign celebration will be held from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Bell Auditorium. Tickets are $10.

For tickets to the end of campaign celebration or to make a donation, call the United Way of the CSRA at 826-4460.