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Mission refined, United Way to unveil new ad campaign

Agency hopes for donation increase

Sunday, September 29, 2013
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United Way will unveil new television ads Wednesday.
United Way will unveil new television ads Wednesday.

— The United Way of the Greater Capital Region will unveil a new advertising campaign Wednesday that leaders hope will help the public better understand the organization’s refined mission and encourage more donations.

Spearheaded by Neil Golub, Price Chopper Supermarkets’ executive chairman of the board, the ad campaign resulted from a pitch he made to local United Way board leaders.

“Fundraising has been very difficult and I thought that they had kind of fallen into a little bit of a hole and I suggested, ‘The only way to get out of the hole is to refocus on what you’re doing and let people know it,’ ” he recounted.

Golub is not a board member, but he and his wife, Jane, and the Golub Corp. have been longtime United Way supporters.

The United Way’s mission was revised at the national level in 2012, and along with it, the way funds are distributed, according to Brian Hassett, president of United Way of the Greater Capital Region.

In the past, the organization distributed funds to local charities in what Golub called a “spray and pray” approach: Give to a lot of organizations and hope that it does some good.

“Reality was, they had no way to measure that,” Golub said.

The organization is now focusing its support exclusively on non-profits that address the issues of early-childhood education; hunger and homelessness; basic needs, like ways to help seniors to remain independent; and financial stability.

The more focused donation template makes it easier to monitor success and ensure help is getting to those whom the United Way feels need it most.

To get the word out about the new funding focus, three television ads have been created with free help from advertising agency Fingerpaint in Saratoga Springs. One features Golub, a second has Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple, and the third features State University of New York Chancellor Nancy Zimpher. Radio and print ads also will be part of the campaign.

The new advertisements will be revealed at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Proctors. Representatives from organizations that have traditionally supported the United Way have been invited to come view the ads and learn more about the way the organization works.

“We have to convince people locally that what United Way is doing is still real and still very pertinent and very important,” said Golub.

Hassett is hopeful the new campaign will help the organization meet its 2013 fundraising goal of $7.5 million. Last year, $7.1 million was raised.

“This past year was the first year in a number of years that we didn’t decline. We basically held on. This year feels different, the economy feels a little bit stronger,” he said.

Despite the brightening economic outlook, donations are needed more than ever, because many non-profits have seen their public funding reduced or eliminated.

“The need hasn’t been eliminated, so we’re trying to do as much as we can to help address these types of things,” Hassett said.

Organizations that don’t currently fit within the United Way’s new funding focus aren’t necessarily being shut out, he noted.

“We have a three-year plan, so that if an organization is not really addressing one of the critical needs, we’ve kind of given them a game plan to either get involved or understand that we’re going to be shifting. We’re not trying to destabilize anybody,” he said.

 
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