Carolina United Way On The Move

United Way of Central Carolinas has seen its share of changes in recent years. Last spring, the organization endured several layoffs amid a decline in revenue and uptick in donor-designated gifts. Last fall, a new CEO took over and now the affiliate will move into a new headquarters space after selling the home it had since 1969.

Like other United Way affiliates around the country the past few years, the Charlotte, N.C. affiliate shifted its community impact strategy in 2018 to focus on economic mobility and has adopted more sustainable practices to ensure its long-term financial health. The relocation is the latest step in that strategy.

The organization will move several blocks, only about a half-mile from its previous location, but will lease space at the Children and Family Services Center on East 5th Street. The center is home to several partner agencies, which will allow for more collaboration.

The center opened in 2003 through a public-private partnership with the city, created by nine Charlotte nonprofits serving children and families. The 100,000-square-foot center has office and meeting space as well as shared administrative services, allowing agencies to “maximize resources, reduce costs, and direct savings to support and expand programs.”“This is truly an ideal real estate solution for United Way,” CEO Laura Clark said via an announcement. “We are energized by the opportunity to work alongside this committed group of agencies, and we look forward to driving lasting change from our new home at the Children and Family Services Center through even deeper network collaboration and efficiencies,” she said.

Clark, who has been in the post less than a year, expects the move could be completed by the end of the year. She was executive vice president and chief impact officer until September when she was elevated to succeed Sean Garrett as CEO. Garrett left in July to become CEO at United Way of Metropolitan Chicago.

The Charlotte Observer reported in late 2017 that the site at Third and Brevard streets sold for $10.5 million. The deal included a three-year lease for United Way to remain until it found new space. For Fiscal Year Ending June 2018, United Way of Central Carolinas reported $37.3 million in revenue, up from $29.6 million the previous year as a result of $9.8 million in realized gains from the property sale in late 2017. Contributions last year were $26 million, down from $28.6 million.

United Way of Central Carolinas has gone through a couple of years of upheaval. In addition to layoffs last year and this year, the affiliate reduced grants by 10 percent in 2018 and again this year by 25 percent as it shifted its strategy. Clark estimated there are currently about 34 employees, down from about 50 a couple of years ago.

United Way also announced two major gifts as the organization continues its drive toward improving economic mobility through partnerships and support from individuals across the region.

Howard Levine, the former CEO of Family Dollar, committed $1 million and The Gambrell Foundation has donated $500,000 over five years.

The foundation’s gift will support United Neighborhoods, which is United Way’s approach to improve economic mobility through holistic neighborhood revitalization. The foundation was motivated to make a $500,000 gift because of the changes United Way has made in recent years to modernize the agency while also shifting its funding strategy to address the region’s most pressing needs, according to the affiliate.