United Way needs $2.2million in just over a week to meet $21.4 million goal

Charlotte’s annual United Way campaign is $2.2 million shy of its $21.4 million goal with just over a week left.

The campaign, which ends Friday, Feb. 21, has raised $19.2 million (91 percent of its goal) since it kicked off in September with a $100,000 check from Chiquita during the annual Chiquita Classic golf tournament.

United Way has surpassed its campaign goals by a few hundred thousand dollars the past two years, and Executive Director Jane McIntyre says she’s optimistic it will happen again this year. She credits an upward trend among the Top 100 corporate campaigns that feed donations to the effort.

For the first time since the recession, the biggest among those campaigns are up over previous years, McIntyre said. This includes employee giving efforts at Carolinas HealthCare System, Duke Energy, Bank of America and Wells Fargo.

The campaign provides money to about 80 local charities that provide critical needs like food, shelter and medical help, as well as programs aimed at keeping at-risk children in school until they graduate.

“This cold weather right now reminds us how this is a goal we need to achieve, with all the homeless we have out there,” said McIntyre. “There are still a lot of people in need, including some who are working, but still don’t make enough money.”

The campaign reached its goal last year only after it got a series of last minute gifts from 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.

This year’s campaign goal of $21.4 million represents a 1.1 percent increase over last year. However, even if the campaign hits its goal this year, the agency has said it could still need to take money from its reserve fund to cover the needs of about 90 member charities.

The agency last year gave out $16.5 million in donor dollars to 82 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 said last year that the reserve fund had about $5 million in it.