United Fund has $475,000 goal

By Tom Joyce - tjoyce@civitasmedia.com

That deja vu feeling of having done something before surrounds the latest United Fund of Surry campaign, which has the same goal as last year — $475,000 — and organizers hoping for the same successful result.

In late April, United Fund officials and supporters celebrated a $490,000 total raised for 2017-2018, but that slate has been wiped clean with the beginning of the 2018-19 campaign.

It kicked off last Saturday with the annual Downtown Rocks & Runs event, and now fund organizers are buckling down for a major push to provide vital financial support to 26 different member agencies serving the community.

Those range from rescue squads to a homeless shelter and scouting organizations.

Music festival planned

The 2018-19 campaign already is eyeing one obstacle compared to last year, according to Merry Craig Boaz, United Fund executive director.

“We’ve had some changes in grant monies that we have gotten for years,” Boaz said Friday, which has left the United Fund trying to make up the shortfall.

“So one thing we’re going to do this year is a music festival on Oct. 6,” she said.

The Granite City Rhythm and Brews event will be held at Veterans Memorial Park, featuring multiple musical groups, food trucks and beer trucks.

“It’s sort of a two-fold thing,” Boaz explained. “It’s another opportunity to fund-raise, also it’s a different kind of event — it’s something new we’re trying.”

Boaz says the music festival reflects the need for the United Fund to be more creative in its approaches. “The way people give is really changing,” she added, which requires new ways to reach the public.

Work sites a key

Aside from special events to raise money, the United Fund will be relying on its traditional methods.

“We still place a lot of emphasis on our workplace campaign,” Boaz said, which is the lifeblood of the United Fund each year.

About 60 percent of the monetary goal is achieved through that measure.

For the 2017-18 fundraising effort, 35 individual workplace campaigns were initiated throughout the county. More than 1,600 people participated in those efforts, either through designating a portion of their paychecks or by making one-time gifts.

Boaz specifically mentioned Altec Inc., a relatively new industry in Surry County which has become a key supporter of the United Fund.

Altec received the Pat Woltz Way to Glow Award for the campaign for mounting an employee effort demonstrating the most creativity, participation and commitment to the community. This resulted in a tripling of the number of employees participating and a 130-percent increase in total pledges from Altec.

“Those kinds of workplace campaigns are tremendous for us,” Boaz said Friday.

Civic clubs and other organizations also are targeted with the same idea in mind: that more funding impact can be made as a group rather than singularly, although the United Fund certainly welcomes any individual contributions.

In addition to contacts made by United Fund representatives, anyone interested in participating in workplace or other efforts is urged to be proactive by reaching out to Boaz or Will Sheppard, the chairman of this year’s campaign.

“I would encourage any local business or company to contact me in reference to a workplace campaign,” Boaz said.

This can be done via email at merrycraig@unitedfundofsurry.org.

Those wishing to support the United Fund also can call its office at (336) 789-3087 or direct general inquiries to office@unitedfundofsurry.org.

The 2018-2019 campaign will run until the end of March.

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.