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United Way campaign surpasses goal

United Way’s annual campaign overcame a $2.2 million gap in the past week to surpass its campaign goal on Friday.

The agency raised $21.5 million, about $106,000 more than expected.

In announcing the campaign conclusion Friday, agency officials credited the success to a large number of company employee campaigns that posted double-digit increases over the previous year.

Campaign Chair Ed O’Keefe noted it was the third campaign in a row that met or exceeded its goal, representing a collective 8 percent increase in the past three years.

He noted the four biggest contributors – accounting for 35 percent of the money raised – were Bank of America, Carolinas HealthCare, Duke Energy and Wells Fargo. Each raised $1 million or more through their employee campaigns.

In all, 59 companies reported double-digit increases in their campaigns.

The $21.5 million represents strictly local funding. Since 2009, the agency has made it a point to have its campaign tally include only dollars that will benefit charities in the five-county area. In previous years, the campaign total included money donated locally but intended for charities in other parts of the country.

“I think the No. 1 reason for this increase is people seem to have more confidence in the economy, both nationally and specifically in Charlotte,” said United Way Board Chair Curt Fochtmann. “I also think the campaign is doing a great job of telling people how their money is helping the community.”

Money raised in the campaign will support programs offered by about 80 local charities, including initiatives that provide food, shelter and medical help for low-income people.

The agency last year gave out $16.5 million in donor dollars to 83 partner charities. That included an estimated $1 million taken from a reserve fund set up for emergencies.

It was the third year in a row the agency had taken money from reserves, as it dealt with the impact of the economic downturn. Agency officials will decide in coming months whether they will again need to dip into that fund, which has about $5 million in it.

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