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United Way boosts its goal

MANATEE — Manatee County’s leading charitable organization has increased its fundraising goal for the first time in three years.

The United Way of Manatee County announced its 2010 campaign goal of $2.75 million Thursday, up from $2.6 million in 2009. Because of the economic downturn, the group’s goal had declined each year since hitting a high of $2.85 million in 2007.

While United Way officials hope an improved economy will spur their fundraising effort, the impetus for the increase is the need for services the organization’s 38 member agencies are struggling to meet, according to Director of Marketing Angela Moore.

The United Way raised $2.65 million during the 2009 campaign.

“We met and exceeded our goal by a bit last year, and the board decided it was OK to increase the goal,” Moore said. “We need to stretch everything that we’re doing in terms of fundraising because the need is still there.”

United Way representatives announced the new campaign goal at their Community Impact Leaders Breakfast, which was held in conjunction with the Manatee Chamber of Commerce Coffee Club at Champs Sports headquarters.

The official campaign kickoff will be Sept. 14.

Beth Bender, senior vice president at SunTrust Bank, is the campaign chair. The vice-chair is Bruce Body, a first vice president of investments at Raymond James and Associates.

United Way staff and member agencies worked hard to reach potential donors during the 2009 campaign, making 135 visits to Manatee workplaces, up from 72 visits in 2008.

Moore said it will take a similar effort this year. “Last year, they really pulled out all the stops,” Moore said. “If we can do everything we did last year and visit a few new companies, then we should meet our goal.”

Earlier this month, member agencies began receiving more than $2 million in funds from the 2009 Live United campaign. The remaining funds go to United Way’s operating and capital budgets and to donor-designated organizations.

All areas from its Community Impact priorities were funded: food and shelter, early childhood development, intervention and prevention of domestic abuse, services for people with disabilities, elderly and caregivers, and youth development.

“We have a great responsibility to make sure the community’s contributions are invested carefully in programs that work,” United Way of Manatee County President Jerry Koontz said. “We have a careful and thorough investment process that maximizes every dollar a donor entrusts to us.”

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