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United Way raises $14 million in annual campaign

United Way of Buffalo and Erie County

The local chapter of the United Way says it raised just over $14 million dollars in its just-concluded 2012-2013 campaign, an increase of more than three percent from last year. This year's campaign goal was $13.7 million dollars. The successful end marks the third straight yearly increase, after ten years of declining contributions.  Last year's campaign ended with $13.6 million.

Michael Weiner, the President and CEO of the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County, says a 10 percent in corporate support helped the organization reach, and exceed, its goal. He also says the number of large donations, $10,000 or more, was up 13 percent. 

"We had a great year. Our donors and the citizens of Erie County were extremely supportive," Weiner told WBFO News. "We really appreciate the support and the generosity of this community."

Weiner says a change in fundraising strategies has resulted in a stronger brand messaging.  He credits new initiatives, including a checkout scanning program, with increasing visibility and awareness of the charity throughout the community.

The president and CEO says he believes the yearly increases reflect a positive outlook on the local economy, showing that citizens are feeling more optimistic and more willing to give to charity.

"Three and a half years ago, we were facing ten years of declining revenues in our campaigns on an annual basis. The last three years have demonstrated that we truly have...instilled a value proposition that people in our community really understand and appreciate," Weiner said.

Campaign chair Dennis Black, who serves as vice president for University Life and Services at the University at Buffalo, will return in the same role for the next campaign, Weiner said.

The organizational leader praised the work of thousands of United Way volunteers, who were honored Tuesday morning in a breakfast celebration at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Buffalo.

"They make all the difference in the world," he said.

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