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ATL Business Chronicle Maria's Metro

Column: Delta steps up to help Atlanta United Way meet goal

By Maria Saporta
Friday, March 16, 2012

It’s one way to make goal.

When Richard Anderson, CEO of Delta Air Lines, set the campaign goal for United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta at $80.4 million, he knew it was a stretch.

But as campaign chair, Anderson kept hoping they would be able to announce that they had reached their goal on the afternoon of March 20 at United Way’s 2011 Campaign Celebration at the Loudermilk Center.

“It looks like we will get to our goal,” Anderson said in a telephone interview a week before the celebration. “The community really stepped up.”

Only later in the conversation did Anderson acknowledge that Milton Little, president of Atlanta’s United Way, recently had told him that it looked as though the campaign was coming in at $80.2 million — $200,000 short of the goal.

“What we did at Delta, we added $200,000 to make sure Atlanta got to its $80.4 million goal,” Anderson said.

Delta already had raised an unprecedented $2 million for its individual United Way campaign, and the additional $200,000 contribution meant Delta’s total contribution was $2.2 million.

Anderson credited Tim Mapes, Delta’s head of marketing, and “a whole team of Delta executives” for the airline’s contribution. (Over the past decade, Delta’s total United Way contribution in Atlanta has been $14 million).

Anderson admitted that when he first became campaign chair, he had a “nagging concern” about whether United Way would be able to hit the $80.4 million goal.

“It’s fortunate that we did when you think about how difficult the economy has been in Atlanta,” Anderson said, adding that United Way plays a critical role in the health and welfare of Atlantans in need.

United Way provides grants to dozens of local nonprofits — and most of its investments are in four focus areas: education, income, health and homelessness.

“United Way cannot thank Richard enough for the inspiring leadership he provided this year’s campaign,” Little wrote in an email. “To watch Richard lead is like watching an elite athlete — incredibly effective, consistent and efficient. There was never a wasted moment or movement.”

Although United Way still doesn’t have the audited numbers of all of the workplace campaigns, it was able to proclaim that Publix Super Markets continues to be the top donor in Atlanta — raising more than $5 million and having another significant increase over last year’s campaign.

“We just can’t say enough about Publix,” said Bonnie Cole, senior vice president of resource development for United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta. “I just keep waiting for [the Publix campaign] to plateau out, but it keeps growing.”

The second-largest overall donor was the Combined Federal Campaign, which includes all the federal workers in the metro Atlanta area, Cole said.

But the government sector — which includes federal, state and some local governments — did experience a significant drop in their campaigns due to reductions in their work force. In all, the government sector’s donations were about $1 million less than last year.

The manufacturing sector also experienced about a $500,000 decrease from the previous year — all reflections of the economic conditions in the state.

United Way, however, is expecting to add to the number of its Tocqueville Society members — these are individual donors who give at least $10,000 a year. For example, at SunTrust Banks alone, Cole said the number of Tocqueville members could double — from 21 to 42. Cole also said that it is possible that the number of Tocqueville members in Atlanta could go from 755 to 800 or more.

“Everyone pulled together to get us to $80.4 million,” Anderson said. “It was a real team effort.”

Better housing for people with AIDS

Jerusalem House, an Atlanta-based organization founded in 1998 to serve homeless and low-income men and women living with HIV/AIDS, is becoming more prominent on the national stage.

Its executive director, Charlie Frew, has been named to the board of National AIDS Housing Coalition. Frew joined Jerusalem House four years ago after a corporate career.

Under his leadership, the organization has grown from 67 to 172 housing units providing housing for more than 300 residents daily, including 125 children. Nearly 92 percent of its revenue goes directly to fund the agency’s programs.

Jerusalem House also is competing against 10 other organizations for a grand prize of $250,000 from Home Depot’s Aprons in Action contest.

The organization that receives the most votes at http://tinyurl.com/JHwinFB by noon on March 31 will win the grand prize.

The organization receiving the second-highest number of votes will win $150,000; and the organization receiving the third-highest will win $100,000 from the Home Depot Foundation.

Jerusalem House is the only Atlanta organization competing, and it is the only AIDS services organization competing.

Southface celebrating

Southface will celebrate on the evening of March 22 for meeting its $1 million goal for the Eco Office Fund at the organization’s headquarters.

The campaign was successful largely due to a $500,000 challenge grant from the Kendeda Fund.

Among the other major donors were Larry Thorpe and Barbara Williams, the R. Howard Dobbs Jr. Foundation, EFI – Energy Federation Inc., Linda Klein and Michael Neuren, Acuity Brands Lighting, DLA Piper, EarthShare, Gables Residential, Heery International, the Home Depot Foundation, Marie Hill Foundation, Walter Reeves, The Coca-Cola Co., Jones Lang LaSalle, the Ray C. Anderson Foundation and the Southface staff.

The $1 million endowment will pay for upgrades to the Eco Office and also will help spur research partnerships.

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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