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When a Challenge Sparks Success

Posted: 3/9/2021

by  Clare Jordan

Typically when we think of United Way, we think of the annual drive for funds, focused on workplace campaigns, and building broad support for community agencies.

But things are changing, and forward-thinking donors are helping to inspire new approaches.

More United Way organizations are building endowment funds to better prepare them to address a variety of longer-term, larger needs in the communities they serve. These funds give them more flexibility and enable them to be more responsive, faster than the traditional annual campaigns can sustain.

Case in point: United Way of Iredell County, based in Statesville, North Carolina.

A few years ago this relatively small United Way in a county of less than 200,000 people dedicated itself to increasing its relatively small endowment fund so that it could be more responsive to community needs.

A long-time supporter stepped forward with a challenge: I will give $1 million if you can raise an additional $2 million by the end of 2020, in order to build a $4 million endowment.

Excited and probably a little bit terrified at the prospect of raising an additional $2 million on top of its annual campaign work, the United Way of Iredell County contacted CapDev for help. We had partnered with the nearby community college for a successful endowment campaign, and had United Way experience in other locations, so it was an ideal match.

Providing strategies, training and campaign material, CapDev was able to help guide the United Way of Iredell County to not only meet, but to exceed its campaign goal, having now raised almost $2.4 million and still going at nearly 20% above goal!

"CapDev helped us to share the goals of this campaign with our volunteer leadership and committed donors in a way that was clear, direct, and inspired action," said executive director Brett Eckerman. "We wouldn't have been able to achieve this type of success without their support and guidance throughout the challenge."

Challenge gifts – whether $1 million or $1,000 – help inspire giving, and are more popular now than ever. Generosity is motivated by peers and by seeing impact – challenge gifts do both.

To learn more about how this challenge campaign was a success, or to consider campaign counsel for your own potential campaign – endowment or other – . We are always happy to talk!

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