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Column: United Way of Greater Atlanta campaign tries something new

By Maria Saporta
Published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on September 20, 2013,

The United Way of Greater Atlanta decided to go virtual this year when kicking off its annual fundraising campaign on Sept. 18.

It also is making another major change — it is revising its annual campaign goal to include only workplace giving and not government and philanthropic grants.

Under the new guidelines, the 2013 campaign goal will be $75 million, a 2.1 percent increase over the $73.44 million that metro Atlanta workplace campaigns raised in 2012.

By comparison, the announced goal last year was $80.7 million, but the campaign fell short, raising only $78 million. Those numbers did include government and philanthropic grants.

“What we’ve taken out are the dollars that are not the direct responsibility of the campaign,” said Milton Little, president and CEO of the United Way of Greater Atlanta. “Foundation grants can be incredibly volatile. And government grants, with sequestration, are up and down.”

In both cases, the campaign cabinet has no ability to influence either of those sources of funding, Little said. The United Way board agreed to the change at its August board meeting.

The annual campaign, however, will continue to include all the individual leadership gifts that range from $1,000 to more than $25,000 a year.

The virtual kickoff of the campaign “was part of trying something new,” Little said.

United Way is committed to deepening its connections and becoming more relevant to millennials. And the United Way organization also is finding ways to broaden its work in the digital space.

And given that Pat Falotico, senior state executive for IBM in Georgia, is this year’s United Way campaign chair, Little said that all the pieces came together this year to go virtual.

By the way, United Way has a new chief development officer — Keith Barsuhn — who is helping coordinate the campaign.

PAGE honors Paul Bowers

Georgia Power CEO Paul Bowers went back in time Sept. 16 when he was honored at the ninth annual “A PAGE Turning Event” at the Egyptian Ballroom benefiting the Professional Association of Georgia Educators Foundation.

PAGE invited Bowers’ favorite teacher — Coach Carl Madison — to help thank Georgia Power and its CEO for all they have done to support education in the state. Madison was Bowers’ football coach for three years in Pensacola, Fla.

“He taught me discipline — both on the field and in the classroom,” Bowers said of Madison. “I ended up playing college football because of him.”

Turknett honors Shepherd

The Turknett Leadership Group, at its 10th annual Leadership Character Awards luncheon Sept. 18 at the Georgia Aquarium, gave special recognition to Alana Shepherd, co-founder of the Shepherd Center, by giving her a Lifetime Achievement Award.

It’s only the second time Turknett has given that award.

The first time was to retired BellSouth executive Frank Skinner.

The other Turknett awards went to Jim Geiger, CEO of CBeyond; Marci McCarthy of Tech Exec Networks; Shan Cooper of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co.; James McGarrah of the Georgia Tech Research Institute; Kathy Colbenson of CHRIS Kids; and Andy Lipman with the Wish for Wendy Foundation.

ULI honors Currey, DuPree

The Urban Land Institute’s Atlanta chapter honored two special leaders at its Awards of Excellence dinner Sept. 12 — Brad Currey and Dan DuPree.

And both men left the audience with something to think about.

Currey, retired CEO of Rock-Tenn, received the Dan and Tally Sweat Community Leadership Award for his tireless efforts in trying to find consensus between the various interest groups in the water disputes between Georgia, Alabama and Florida.

Playing on the real estate theme of the night — Adapt, Survive and Thrive — Currey said: “You can’t do that without water.” He went on to say that all this work goes back to when Gov. Zell Miller was in office. “We’ve been in this dog-and-cat fight for almost 24 years, and it doesn’t make any sense for it to go on,” Currey said. Progress is being made because “we’re not cussing at each other” and everyone is still at the table.

Dan DuPree, a longtime real estate executive who received the Frank Carter Award, wondered where are today’s young entrepreneurial developers — the city-makers like John Portman, Tom Cousins, Mike Gearon, Frank Carter, John Williams, Mack Taylor and Harvey Mathis. “Today, it’s much more the institutional investors,” DuPree said.

CHRIS Kids honors Franklin

The 13th annual CHRIStal Ball will honor former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin and Georgia-Pacific on the evening of Sept. 28 at the Georgia Aquarium. In addition to Mayor Franklin, Georgia-Pacific CEO Jim Hannan will attend the event.

CHRIS Kids is a local Atlanta nonprofit serving children who are in the foster care system, or are homeless, or who battle behavioral and mental issues.

The nonprofit provides children and families an array of support, housing and services that they need to straighten out their lives. The evening will include youth testimonials about their experiences at CHRIS Kids.

Since 2001, the ball has raised more than $2 million for CHRIS Kids.

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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