Donations of all sizes help in big way

Sunday, February 19, 2006

When it comes to giving to and supporting the local United Way, the largest donations don't necessarily come from the biggest corporations.

While large corporations and professional individuals are always generous, it's the local businesses that provide the most support to the United Way's agencies.

Eighty percent of the more than $1 million raised in 2005 came from local businesses, specifically the employees of those businesses, said United Way director Nancy Jernigan.

Some corporations prefer to give from their corporate headquarters, but local offices of large corporations often support the United Way through a local company gift. The biggest way companies show their support, Jernigan said, is enabling their employees to give through payroll deductions.

Through payroll deduction, employees can be more generous to the United Way by spreading their contribution throughout the year with each paycheck than they could if they were to make a one-time donation.

"Companies can't let just everybody come in and do that," Jernigan said. "We're fortunate we have been able to maintain that level of support and commitment not just locally but on a national level."

If a local branch of a large company cannot make a company donation, or if for some reason the corporate headquarters withdraws its support, the local management can continue to support the United Way by encouraging employees to make payroll deductions, Jernigan said.

Corporate support extends beyond monetary giving. Jernigan says that the United Way board is made up of corporate and business leaders who know first-hand where the money goes and how much of an impact it has had.

"Our board is comprised of about 25 percent business leaders," said Jernigan. "Many of them give us their time by serving on our board, which involves committee work and other commitments. They really make it happen for us. "

Businesses and not-for-profit organizations also show their support by participating in the annual golf tournament and by encouraging their employees to sponsor fund-raising activities.

Businesses also contribute by underwriting some of the United Way's campaign expenses. That allows more of the money collected through donations to go to the agencies the United Way supports instead of being spent for overhead costs.

The United Way began in Cape Girardeau in 1954 with a goal of raising $49,500. Contributions that year totaled $38,605.

In 2003, contributions to the United Way topped $1 million for the first time. Since then, giving has steadily increased. The goal for 2005 was $1,050,000; actual receipts total more than $1.1 million, Jernigan said.

The top 20 contributors for 2005 are: Procter and Gamble, Saint Francis Medical Center, Southeast Missouri Hospital, Southeast Missouri State University, Nordenia, Southeast Missourian, Schnucks, City of Cape Girardeau, Jackson Public Schools, AmerenUE, Cape Public Schools, Nestle Purina, KFVS12 TV, SBC, Biokyowa, DANA Corporation, Regions Bank, Famous Barr, JC Penney and United Parcel Service.

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