By Maria Saporta
Friday, July 24, 2009

The final numbers are in for Atlanta’s United Way 2008 campaign.

Several amazing developments occurred among local companies despite one of the worst economic climates in metro Atlanta’s history.

In the end, the campaign experienced a drop in revenue of less than 1 percent — raising $80.5 million compared with $81.2 million in 2007.

“The worry was that cities our size were going to see a drop in revenue of about 7 percent,” said Milton Little, president of United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta Inc. “With respect to other United Ways across the country, we did as well if not better than most major cities. We will still be in the top tier of all United Ways.”

Some of the amazing facts:

Publix Super Markets Inc. ran the No. 1 campaign in the region — raising $4.69 million, even more than the perennial top donor — the Combined Federal Campaign, which raised $4.6 million. (Last year, the federal campaign raised $4.9 million; and Publix raised $4.3 million).

The top corporate donor in 2007 — AT&T Inc. — saw a slight increase — from $4.4 million to $4.47 million in 2008. United Parcel Service Inc., a former top corporate donor in Atlanta, dropped slightly from $4 million to $3.8 million.

UPS remains the top corporate donor nationwide. The Coca-Cola Co. went from $3 million to $3.1 million.

The campaign ended up adding two new companies to the million-dollar level — the Kroger Co. and Ernst & Young LLP. One company, Wachovia, left the million-dollar club, going from $1.2 million to $790,000.

Little said a few industry sectors were particularly hard-hit — banking, real estate, legal and hospitality.

But overall, most of the top donors brought in about the same amount as last year.

“Surprisingly, given all that was going on, our major companies that had been longtime supporters of United Way were able to hold their own in a very difficult environment,” Little said.

One company, Genuine Parts Co., saw its campaign go from $961,000 to $991,000.

Companies that were able to enjoy double-digit growth in their campaigns included Ernst & Young, PrintPack, Norfolk-Southern and Kroger.

And Atlanta continued to lead the nation in the number of Alexis de Tocqueville donors (individuals giving at least $10,000) with 867 members. At one time, Atlanta had more than 1,000 de Tocqueville members.

United Way is one of the best indicators of our local economy, the health of our companies and various industries. But it tends to be a lagging indicator, which is worrisome for the 2009 campaign, which will be chaired by AGL Resources Inc. CEO John Somerhalder.

“Every campaign is tough, and I expect 2009 to be tougher than last year,” Little said. “We don’t know what the goal might be. But we certainly do know from all the data we are collecting that the needs are probably greater this year than they were last year. The campaign will be set against the reality that there are more people struggling. That’s the whole conundrum, when the needs are the greatest, the challenge to raise money is the greatest.”

Corrells, Heys to be honored

One of the top honors in town will be given to Pete Correll and his wife, Ada Lee Correll, on Nov. 10 for the 27th annual National Philanthropy Day.

The Corrells are being honored as the 2009 Philanthropists of the Year by the Greater Atlanta chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Pete Correll, retired CEO of Georgia-Pacific and currently a partner of the Atlanta Equity Fund, has played a variety of key civic roles.

The Corrells are being recognized for their contributions to a host of nonprofit causes: Emory School of Medicine, Grady Health System, Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta, Ebenezer Baptist Church, the Nature Conservancy and the Center for Aquatic Animal Health at the Georgia Aquarium.

The luncheon, which will be held at the Georgia Aquarium, also will honor Ed Heys, Atlanta deputy managing partner for Deloitte & Touche, who will be given the 2009 Volunteer Fundraiser of the Year award.

In one of his civic roles, Heys chaired the 2008 United Way campaign, including its one-time Critical Needs campaign.

Heys also has been involved with the Boy Scouts of America, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the Woodruff Arts Center.

Bill Curry, newly appointed Georgia State University head coach and 1985 ACC Coach of the Year, will co-emcee the lunch with his wife, Carolyn Curry.

Women’s Foundation keeps giving

The Atlanta Women’s Foundation is not scaling back its giving.

The organization is donating $1 million to organizations in the five-county metro Atlanta for the third year in a row.

But to keep up that level of giving, it had to dip into its reserves to cover about a third of grants this year.

“We are experiencing all the same challenges that everyone else is experiencing,” said Barbara Mosacchio, CEO of the foundation, adding that the economic challenges also are impacting women and girls who suffer from poverty, illness and homelessness. “[The needs] were evident to us when our applications came in. We have over $6 million in requests.”

The foundation actually decided to give fewer, larger grants. It gave money to 22 groups with an average gift of about $50,000. The largest gift was to the organization — A Future. Not A Past — which is dedicated to eliminating childhood prostitution and sexual exploitation.

The agency — A Future. Not A Past. — received a $230,000 grant, part of a $1 million dedicated gift from the Andersen Family Foundation, which is being distributed over four years.

Of the grants it made this year, 15 were new and seven were multi-year commitments the foundation made previously.

The foundation also will hold its major fundraiser Nov. 12. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof will be the keynote speaker.

Maria Saporta, executive editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state. From 2008 to 2020, she wrote weekly columns...

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