Campaign is halfway to $175,000 fundraising goal

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 24, 2010

NATCHEZ — Usually asking people for money isn’t fun, but Tiffany Mascagni and Carol Follmer are having a blast.

Mascagni, executive director of the United Way of the Miss-Lou and Follmer, business and community development director for the agency, are two months into the 2010 United Way fundraising campaign and are halfway to the $175,000 fundraising goal.

“There has been so much excitement since our kickoff that we come into work each day looking forward to what we get to do next,” Follmer said.

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The campaign kicked off in August with the annual jambalaya cook-off and has been going full-force since then, Mascagni said.

“We had people calling before we even kicked off wanting to know when they would get their campaign packets,” she said. “This is our first campaign, so we have been pleasantly surprised by the excitement in the community.”

The United Way of the Greater Miss-Lou supports 13 local agencies. The goal of the United Way is to provide a central agency that individuals and businesses can support that then provides funding for a variety of worthy causes. Mascagni said an additional four organizations have applied for funding but have not yet been approved by local board of directors

Follmer said educating companies, organizations and individuals about the United Way has been an integral part of the fundraising process.

“Most people know the name United Way, but being able to explain exactly what we do has been important,” Follmer said. “A lot of people didn’t realize that we actually disperse funding to a lot of different local organizations. That is important to know when you are decideding which non-profit you want to give support.”

Locally, money is raised through both company-run campaigns and individual donations. Thirty local companies are running United Way campaigns.

Mascagni said each company’s chairman creates a lot of excitement by offering unique ways for employees to get involved. Selling T-shirts, raffling off days off and chances for casual dress days at work have all been big successes within companies, Mascagni said.

“The chairpeople have really blown me away with their excitement and their ideas,” Mascagni said. “This isn’t the Tiffany and Carol show for sure. Our board, the companies and organizations and everyone that has been involved have helped us get off to this great start.”

The campaign wraps up at the end of December and allocation meetings will begin then. Mascagni said she hopes the excitement continues to build as the United Way reaches the end of the campaign.

“I feel confident we will meet our goal and probably surpass it,” she said. “The more money we can raise, the more we can invest in our community.”

A $50 donation provides nails and screws to build one house for Habitat for Humanity, emergency food assistance for five families through the Salvation Army or meals, housing and therapy for one abused or neglected family at the Guardian Shelter for Women and Children.

Follmer said many organizations use the allocations received from United Way to apply for matching grant funds from other organizations. She said if they don’t recieve the United Way funding, the organization also won’t be approved for grant funds.

“They have to show that they have the money in the bank for the match,” Follmer said. “But since United Way doesn’t restrict the way they can use the money, they are able to sometimes double the money they receive from us. That takes a $1 donation from someone here and makes it $2 for that agency in need.”

Donations can be made through participating employers or by individuals.

On top of monetary donations, the United Way is collecting cleaning supplies and household products to be distributed to several of its partnering agencies. Mascagni said since grants that fund these agencies have restricted uses, many times cleaning supplies and paper products can’t be purchased.

“They don’t have the money to purchase these supplies a lot of the time,” she said. “We can raise more than money to help them out.”

Donations can be dropped off at the United Way office at 206 Canal St., or placed in the United Way boxes at local Natchez Market stores.

Monetary donations can be made online at or by mail at P.O. Box 1466, Natchez, MS 39121.

“Every day we go to the post office is like Christmas,” Mascagni said. “We split the envelopes, and both get excited opening them because we know what it means for the agencies we partner with.”