United Way facing $1 million shortfall

United Way donations support almost 90 philanthropic agencies all across our area, helping over 350, 000 people every year. But right now, United Way has a major problem - a completely unanticipated result of the DNC.

The Democratic National Convention was probably the most prestigious event Charlotte has hosted.

But it did have some unintended consequences, and one of them could cost United Way. Executive Director Jane McIntyre says it's easy to understand how it happened.

One of the most successful means she has for collecting money is corporate campaigns. McIntyre will go in and speak to a company's employees, and the events end up raising huge donations. But this year, the DNC landed here during peak fund raising time.

"Many of us closed down, and people were involved with the entertainment, and all the excitement and activities," McIntyre says.

Fifteen of United Way's biggest corporate supporters ended up delaying their campaigns. Last year, those 15 accounted for almost $9 million of the agency's annual tally.

"The DNC was great for the community, but when people had to close down, and couldn't access their buildings, that certainly slowed things down," McIntyre says.

Then, to make matters worse, Superstorm Sandy hit, and local companies with large staffs in the northeast also took a punch.

Now, United Way is a million dollars short of where the campaign stood at this time last year, with only three months left in the collection season.The corporate cash could still come in, but McIntyre hopes others will step up when they hear the need.

"I hope people will consider a gift," she says. "It's a lot of small gifts for at least fifty percent of the money."

If the campaign doesn't rebound, "Well we don't even talk about that," McIntyre says resolutely. "We really don't. The staff's not allowed to talk about it. I don't talk about it. We just keep working."

But the fact is, a lot of important local agencies are depending on that money. "Agencies that provide critical services to our community. And they can not take a breather if they don't get the money they need. So it's really our job, all of our job, to make certain that we provide the needed dollars," McIntyre says.

If you want to help United Way, donation information is available on the agency's website: