Column: Woodruff Arts campaign slips, but is upright

By Maria Saporta
Friday, June 26, 2009

The tough economy took its toll in the Woodruff Arts Center’s annual corporate campaign. But the damage was less thanit could have been.

After adding up all the pledges anddonations, Woodruff raised $8.6 million for its 2008-2009 corporate campaign, about $400,000 short of its record $9 million goal.

The campaign also fell short of the 2007-2008 campaign, which raised $175,000 more than its $8.7 million goal.

For campaign leaders, the results were both a disappointment and a relief.

“Corporations and individuals displayed their appreciation and love for the arts by supporting this year’s campaign in some of the worst economic conditions any of us can remember,” said Georgia Power Co. CEO Mike Garrett, who chaired this year’s Woodruff campaign. “While we fell short of our goal by 4.5 percent, we did much better than many communities. Some fell 20 to 35 percent.”

It was the first time in decades that the Woodruff Arts Center campaign did not meet its goal, according to Beauchamp Carr, executive vice president of the Woodruff Arts Center.

“It could not have been tougher,” said Carr, who then added: “We are concerned that 2010 could be tougher than 2009.”

The corporate campaign helps cover operating expenses of the Woodruff Arts Center and its four divisions — the Alliance Theatre, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the High Museum of Art, and Young Audiences.

Every year, the Woodruff campaign is an economic indicator of the health of Atlanta’s companies and business sectors.

“You could tell in the cabinet meetings that the committees were struggling, but they weren’t giving up,” Garrett said. “Banking and real estate have been hit hard.”

Compared to last year, the campaign lost $925,000 from its existing donors. But it was able to offset those losses by bringing in nearly $500,000 in new contributions.

“I think it’s clear that people in this community recognize the importance of the arts,” Garrett said.

In all, 28 new donors joined the Patron Circle of Stars — an elite group that gives at least $15,000 a year. Woodruff also kept its largest backers intact.

“All of our six-figure donors have remained extremely strong,” Carr said.

The top donors are The Coca-Cola Co.: $500,000 or more; Georgia Power Foundation: $450,000 or more; Turner Broadcasting System Inc.: $400,000.

Giving $300,000 or more were the Cox Interests (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, WSB-TV, Cox Radio Group Atlanta, James M. Cox Foundation and Anne Cox Chambers); Deloitte; the Sara Giles Moore Foundation and United Parcel Service Inc. Giving at least $200,000 were AT&T Inc. and the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta.

In the $150,000-plus range were Equifax Inc.; Ernst & Young LLP; Jones Day; KPMG LLP; PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP; the Rich Foundation, SunTrust Banks Inc. and related foundations.

The remaining donors giving at least $100,000 were AirTran; Alston & Bird LLP; Bank of America; Holder Construction Co.; ING; Kaiser Permanente; Kilpatrick Stockton; King & Spalding LLP; the Marcus Foundation; Tull Charitable Foundation, the Wachovia Foundation, and the David, Helen & Marian Woodward Fund.

Bill Linginfelter, Regions Bank’s area president for Georgia and South Carolina, will chair next year’s Woodruff Arts Center’s corporate campaign. Carr said The Coca-Cola Co. also has agreed to step up its role in next year’s campaign.

Still No. 1. For 10 years, Atlanta’s United Way has had the bragging rights of having more Alexis de Tocqueville Society members than any other city in the country.

Tocqueville Society members give a minimum of $10,000 a year to United Way, which benefits hundreds of charities in metro Atlanta.

Of some surprise to Atlanta’s United Way president, Milton Little, Atlanta retained that distinction this year despite a drop in the number of Tocqueville Society members from 967 donors to about 867.

“We slipped, but other communities also must have slipped,” Little said. “We received notification from United Way of America that we were No. 1 in the country for the 10th year in a row.”

As a way of giving thanks, Atlanta’s United Way honored its Tocqueville Society members at a reception on June 18 at the World of Coke.

Tom Bell, chairman and CEO of Cousins Properties Inc. until the end of this month, was presented the Tocqueville Society Award for his leadership and financial contributions.

Susan Bell, office managing partner of Ernst & Young LLP, was presented the Chairman’s Award based on her ability to increase the number of United Way Tocqueville Society members. Under her leadership, Ernst & Young’s United Way campaign gained 11 new Tocqueville Society members, including two new Ivan Allen Society members (those giving at least $25,000 a year).

Goodwill of North Georgia was presented the O’Connell Community Impact Award for making significant strides in its community impact.

Goodwill’s CEO Raymond Bishop accepted the award.

Also, Peter and Gina Genz were inducted into United Way’s Million Dollar Roundtable. They have been Alexis de Tocqueville members since 1998 and Ivan Allen Society members since 2003.

Lastly, Edward Heys, Deloitte & Touche’s Atlanta deputy managing partner, received a special honor for chairing the 2008 United Way campaign and for launching last year’s special Critical Needs campaign, which raised $3.73 million.

Green team. Renay Blumenthal and Kevin Green are teaming up again.

Blumenthal, senior vice president for public policy for the Metro Atlanta Chamber, is the new board chair for the Clean Air Campaign.

Before becoming executive director of the Clean Air Campaign, Green worked for Blumenthal at the chamber as vice president of environmental affairs.

“She’s just terrific to work with,” Green said, adding that Blumenthal has been serving on his board for years. “She knows the alphabet soup of partners. Ultimately, she and the chamber concluded that this was a good fit.”

The Clean Air Campaign encourages commute alternatives for people in metro Atlanta, working with corporations, governments and civic groups to provide carpooling, encourage transit ridership, telecommuting and other alternative modes of transportation.

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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