Despite running $1 million behind at one point, Charlottes United Way closed its annual campaign Wednesday by surpassing its $21.2 million goal.
Its the second year in a row that United Way has surpassed its fundraising goal, after struggling to raise money during the early years of the recession.
This years total represents a 1.5 percent increase over what was raised last year. Agency officials credited the success to last-minute gifts given by four corporate donors.
Duke Energy, Bank of America, Family Dollar and Ingersoll Rand contributed a combined $255,000 to push the campaign just over its target.
The four companies came forward after learning United Ways campaign was still $500,000 short of its goal with just three weeks left to go. The agency challenged its board members to fan out in the community and use their influence to close the gap.
Campaign Chairwoman Jennifer Weber succeeded in getting an additional $75,000 from her employer, Duke Energy, which then challenged other corporations to increase their donations.
Josh Braverman, public relations manager for Family Dollar, noted that his company is still in the midst of its annual employee giving campaign for United Way.
But we wanted to go above and beyond, so we just asked, What can we do? said Braverman.
The company ended up contributing $75,000.
Missing the goal would have forced United Way to take more money from an emergency fund created to help charities should there be a community crisis. Last year, United Way needed $1.2 million from the so-called stabilization fund to avoid a drop in support for its 87 member charities.
Weber admitted the campaign struggled this year, due largely to the economy.
We had hurdles at seemingly every turn, and while the economy is stronger, its still not to a level where generosity is easy. And on top of that we had to surpass last years campaign, which set a tremendously high bar.
United Way Executive Director Jane McIntyre said the push to make 1.5 percent more with this years campaign seemed modest at first, but Im extremely happy we did not project a larger goal.
Though the goal was met with the help of corporate gifts, she said the agencys core support continues to come from small donors.
Historically, of our 55,000 donors, over 33,000 give $100 or less, so it truly adds up.
The $21.2 million represents strictly local funding money donated to the United Ways Community Care Fund or designated to one of its local agencies.
Since the 2009 campaign, United Way of Central Carolinas has counted only local dollars toward its goal, to put the emphasis on donations benefitting the five-county region it serves.