We don’t throw galas,” says Carmen Hickerson, vice president and principal gifts officer of Metro United Way of the impending celebration at the Louisville Downtown Marriott. “This is a one-shot deal for us and we want to make it special. We’re going to recognize all of the people who’ve been part of this hundred years.”
Parties are not part of the annual plan at Louisville Metro United Way—a non-profit that has been part of the fabric of philanthropic service in this community since the turn of the twentieth century. But this particular milestone was too important not to recognize—especially since it is accompanied by another astonishing achievement: “We’re also hoping to be able to celebrate the raising of one billion dollars,” says Metro United Way President & CEO Theresa Reno-Weber. The organization is about $36 million from the goal, but is working to close the gap by the time the doors open for their big bash. “How wonderful would it be to be able to say that we reached a fundraising mark of a billion on our hundredth anniversary?” asks Reno-Weber.
Either way, the party will symbolize both the achievement of past goals and the beginning of a fresh chapter: “Many people don’t realize how the Metro United Way has evolved,” says Reno-Weber. “They think our support of other organizations is strictly financial, but we do so much more. We provide funding, yes, but we also provide a support system and marketing and outreach that allow other groups to continue to grow and focus their resources on doing good work.” Their reach is tremendous. In total, Metro United Way supports more than ninety-nine community agencies and over 150 programs in Kentucky and Southern Indiana. Instrumental in their success are the 600 members of the Tocqueville Society.
“We created this group in 1984 to recognize our most generous donors and contributors,” says Hickerson.
In 2016, for example, the Tocqueville Society members alone contributed more than $6 million.
Which is why the gala, on November 11, will be more of a big thank you than another call to fundraise. There will be live music, a surprise “never before seen in Louisville” interactive activity that will result in a permanent fixture in the building. “Everyone who participates will be permanently memorialized,” says Hickerson. “But I can’t say more than that!”
What there won’t be in an auction. “We’re not going to make this about raising more money, we’re going to make this a celebration of our shared success,” says Reno-Weber. “This is an exciting moment and an exciting time for us as an organization. We have created a great network of individuals and groups who are working together to tackle some of the toughest challenges in our communities. They deserve a party.”
IF YOU GO:
The Metro United Way 100th Anniversary Gala will be held on Saturday, November 11 at the Louisville Marriott Downtown. Individual tickets are $300; a table of ten is $2,700. For info, go to MetroUnitedWay.org/100gala.