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Sherri Richards, Published September 03 2010

United Way sets goal of $5M

Setting its largest-ever campaign goal, the United Way of Cass-Clay will be more strategic in its efforts to raise $5 million, said Tammy Miller, 2010 campaign chairwoman.

The United Way announced its $5 million 2010 campaign goal at a baseball-themed kickoff Thursday at Newman Outdoor Field.

“If we can hit it out of the park and achieve our 2010 campaign goals, we will create lasting change, and we will all win,” said Miller, clad in gray baseball pants and black socks and baseball cap.

Miller, CEO of Border States Electric, said the United Way has been contacting local small businesses that have never participated in the campaign, asking returning companies to increase their contributions by 5 percent, and reaching out to lapsed Key Club Leaders in Giving.

These former donors who gave at least $500 will have to give more to be a part of the Key Club.

The United Way also increased the giving levels for the bronze, silver and gold Key Club by 20 percent. Now, the minimum donation to be a Key Club Leader in Giving is $600.

The levels had not been adjusted since the program started in 1989.

“So far, the general feedback we have gotten from some of our most generous supporters has been,

‘why didn’t you do this earlier?’ ” said Melinda Haun, president of the United Way of Cass-Clay.

She said it’s likely the organization, which helps fund area nonprofits, will institute incremental increases.

Donors who reach the Key Club giving level are recognized in a United Way booklet. Some workplaces recognize employees who give at this level.

“People have a sense of pride that they can support the community at that level. It’s a benchmark for people to make that decision,” Haun said.

“We don’t want to be an exclusive group at all, but the general consensus has been people are comfortable with the new level at $600,” she added.

Key Club donors contributed 37 percent to 2009’s campaign, which raised more than $4.87 million.

The $5 million goal is a 2.5 percent increase over last year. So far, 22 “pacesetter” companies have raised $506,780.

“People might look at us and wonder why we decided to increase the goal based on the current economic environment,” Miller said. “We all need to look around and see the needs in the community. And these needs continue to grow.”

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Sherri Richards at (701) 241-5556