Originally created 08/30/98

Campaign to kick off at stadium



Aggressive.

That's how United Way of the CSRA president and chief professional officer Keith Benson describes this year's capital campaign efforts. The campaign kicks off at 6:30 p.m. Sunday at Lake Olmstead prior to the Augusta GreenJackets hosting the Savannah SandGnats. The game is scheduled to begin at 7:05 p.m.

"We are going to have to make up some one-time gifts and some large gifts that we know won't be repeated," Mr. Benson said. "We know people need us and the agencies rely on us to be aggressive. They need us to do what we can."

Last year, the United Way raised $3.91 million. Mr. Benson said big gifts included $50,000 for the Peter S. Knox Conference Center and the sale of some property.

Campaign figures have steadily increased since 1995 when the organization broke the $3 million barrier for the first time in its history. The charity's goal is to have a $5 million fund-raising campaign in the year 2000.

"It's getting harder and harder to maintain the increases," he said, adding that new ways are being developed to make up for any shortfall.

A major focus is shifting to planned giving.

Cutting a check or having money deducted from the payroll account each pay period aren't the only ways of giving to the United Way, said Mr. Benson.

The organization will also accept stock and property.

The United Way is also looking to tap into new businesses that have recently opened in the area and to reach out to other companies who've never before supported the agency.

And it plans to make a major push at the end of the year for those looking at last minute tax deductions by sending out direct mail.

Something that the organization has never done, he said.

A major stress has been on leadership giving or giving at the level of $500 or more per year.

"Major gifts is a mini-campaign in itself," he said.

Last winter, the non-profit agency, through the sponsorship of KMC Telecom/Augusta, treated those givers to a performance of the musical Bye, Bye Birdie featuring former teen idol Troy Donahue. Mr. Benson said another thank-you event is being planned for givers in this campaign.

While campaign dollars have increased, there have also been increases in the amounts designated by donors to certain organizations and in the amount of uncollectible; however, Mr. Benson said he thinks this trend may be on a downturn freeing up more funds for the United Way agencies.

"On the uncollectibles, we are pleased with the progress we are making," he said.

The United Way takes the money it receives and divides it among its member agencies under the direction of a volunteer committee.

Affiliate agencies only receive funds if they are designated to them by the donor.

A major portion of designations is routed to affiliate agencies; however, the United Way receives donor designations for charities that are neither affiliates or members of the United Way.

This, however, most likely will be the last year for agencies to hold an affiliate status.

United Way officials are meeting with the boards of affiliate agencies to present them with the option of becoming a full member agency.