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ATL Business Chronicle Maria's Metro

Column: Atlanta’s United Way raised $74 million with 2013 campaign

By Maria Saporta
Published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on May 2, 2014

United Way of Greater Atlanta enjoyed its second consecutive increase in its fundraising campaign, announcing April 29 that its 2013 campaign raised $74.15 million.

Milton Little, United Way’s president and CEO, said it also was the third increase in four years, which was an indicator that the Atlanta economy had stabilized.

“We celebrate our success but we don’t take it for granted,” Little said. “The reality for all of us in this fundraising world is that the challenges still persist. But the worst direct impact of the recession is behind us.”

Although it was an increase, the 2013 results still fell short of the stated $75 million goal that had been set in September by Pat Falotico, senior state executive for IBM in Georgia who served as the 2013 campaign chair.

Over the past several years, United Way has changed several elements in its campaign. Before it used to announce a campaign goal in August or early September and then declare whether it had met the goal in January the following year.

But because many of the workplace campaigns would not turn in their results until later, Little pushed back announcing the campaign results until the spring so United Way could be more certain of the final numbers.

“We have really moved to a year-round fundraising organization,” Little said. “The campaign chairs may be working a little longer than they used to.”

Also, beginning last fall, United Way decided to remove foundation gifts from the campaign totals because those donations fall outside of the campaign giving responsibilities. Little said it was not fair to hold campaign cabinets accountable for foundation grants over which they had no control.

So the new goals and results reflect just the number of dollars that the workplace and related campaigns bring in.

Under that recalculated formula, the 2010 campaign brought in $73.34 million; the 2011 campaign – $72.72 million; 2012 – $73.44 million; and 2013 – $74.15 million.

One constant, however, is Publix Super Markets.

Publix continues to dominate as the top donor in Atlanta – bringing in $6.7 million to the 2013 campaign – an increase of $300,000 over the year before. In all, there are now 19 entities that contribute at least $1 million a year. PricewaterhouseCoopers became the newest company to become a $1 million donor.

Little said other companies that deserved special mention were QuikTrip, which had a 20 percent increase to its campaign, adding $350,000. SunTrust Banks went from having 90 Alexis de Tocqueville donors to 132. (Those are donors who give at least $10,000 a year.) Little said that Atlanta’s United Way likely will end up this year with a total of 950 de Tocqueville donors, the most it has had in several years.

United Way has not yet named someone to chair the 2014 campaign. Little said that they are getting close to doing so.

Hungry for Happiness.

The Arby’s Foundation launched its 30-city Hungry for Happiness mobile tour at Smyrna’s Belmont Hills Elementary School April 29 in grand style.

First it donated $4 million to the national nonprofit Share our Strength’s No Kid Hungry Campaign. And then it gave another $5,000 to Bertha Nelson, the principal of Belmont Hills Elementary, to help make sure its students have meals to eat on weekends when they’re not in school.

Arby’s has become a national leader in the effort to end childhood hunger — a cause that started during the tenure of its former CEO, Hala Moddelmog, and is continuing under Arby’s Restaurant Group CEO Paul Brown. Brown will be celebrating his one-year anniversary with the company on May 15.

“I think this focus area makes a huge amount of sense for Arby’s,” Brown said in an interview at the mobile tour launch. Focusing on food and children is a “good fit for the company.”

Kate Atwood, president of the Arby’s Foundation, said the Share our Strength partnership is an outgrowth of last year’s $3 million focus on Georgia. Nationally, 1 in 5 children are at risk of being hungry while in Georgia it’s 1 in 4 children — or 890,000 children.

The biggest concern is during the summer when children are not in school and do not have access to free or reduced-price lunches or meals.

On May 16, all the Atlanta area Arby’s restaurants will donate 10 percent of their sales to go toward summer meal programs.

Arby’s also will be providing meal cards to students through the fifth grade for 10 healthy kids meals.

“It allows our restaurants to become de facto feeding centers and it takes advantage of our footprint,” said Brown, who added that he has really enjoyed his first year as Arby’s CEO and to stay tuned as the restaurant chain will soon be unveiling a new advertising campaign. “Everyone is really hard at work, and the business is performing very, very nicely.”

Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School.

The Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School held its second annual Trustee Legacy lunch at the Piedmont Driving Club April 29 when it honored retired Atlanta attorney W. Stell Huie with the Emily and Ernest Woodruff Medal of Service award.

Huie, an attorney who was instrumental in the formation of MARTA and practiced with Kutak, Rock & Huie and McKenna Long & Aldridge, has been a “faithful supporter” of the independent boarding and day school located in Rabun County for more than 15 years.

Huie co-chaired the recent $3.9 million campaign to build the Niles Bolton Middle School Complex (along with Niles Bolton), and he served as president of its board of visitors and vice chairman of its board of trustees.

Huie said he got involved with the school after he moved permanently to the Highlands, and his minister from Atlanta – the Rev. Allison Williams of Trinity Presbyterian Church, urged him to help the school. Typically 20 percent of its graduates are the first in their family to attend college.

Many of Huie’s closest friends turned out for the lunch, including his former law partner Jack Etheridge and retired SunTrust CEO Jimmy Williams.

$500,000 for UNICEF.

The U.S. Fund for UNICEF raised more than $500,000 at the fourth annual UNICEF Experience Atlanta Sunday, April 27, at the Foundry at Puritan Mill.

The event drew more than 350 local supporters and raised a total of $519,300 for the organization’s lifesaving programs.

Attendees were able to experience a sample of those innovative programs in water and sanitation, emergencies, education and protection response.

They also were able to visit four regions of the world to see how UNICEF responds in emergency situations — looking at the hardships faced by vulnerable children in these developing countries — all without leaving Atlanta.

Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.


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