This United Way of Central Alabama society is #1 in the US for fundraising—what’s their secret?

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UWCA's Tocqueville Society and Young Philanthropist Society volunteering
Each year, the Tocqueville Society and UWCA’s Young Philanthropist Society (YPS) complete a joint project at the Community Food Bank. Photo via United Way of Central Alabama (taken in 2019)

Birmingham has a lot to brag on, but this is one we’ll be boasting about for a while. United Way of Central Alabama’s (UWCA) Tocqueville Society ranked number one in 2020 for most funds raised out of all United Ways across the nation, beating out large cities like Houston and Chicago.

What is the Tocqueville Society?

Members of UWCA's Tocqueville Society
UWCA’s Tocqueville Society participating in an annual service project sorting food and packing weekender backpack kits for children who are food insecure over the weekend. Photo via United Way of Central Alabama (taken in 2019)

The Tocqueville Society is one of the most generous programs in our community. It consists of over 800 members who contribute $10,000 or more to United Way.

After successful efforts left UWCA’s Tocqueville Society in the top five for fundraising over the past several years, the charitable program now sits proudly as number one.

Even more immaculate, they did this in a year when the chips were down and barriers were up. But Caroline Bolvig, Vice President of Major Gifts for UWCA, says it’s thanks to United Way’s mission.

“Our CEO, Drew Langloh, says over and over that United Way is made for times like these—when things take a terrible turn in the wrong direction. We’re here to fill in the gaps and provide extra safety nets.”

Caroline Bolvig, Vice President of Major Gifts, United Way of Central Alabama

Volunteers lead the charge for UWCA’s Tocqueville Society

UWCA's Tocqueville Society
Volunteers help the Birmingham community. Photo via United Way of Central Alabama (taken in 2019)

The success is partly due to their mission, but also because of the incredible community support in Birmingham.

Due to the close nature of our city, we get to know our favorite business owners well. So, seeing them hurt due to hardships brought on by COVID-19 makes the driving force behind volunteer efforts even stronger.

“I feel like UWCA thrives when our volunteers thrive because they have such a strong purpose. One thing about UWCA that makes us special is we are truly volunteer-driven. All our volunteer positions have a say-so in how UWCA runs. We rely on the expertise of the community to do our work.” 

Caroline Bolvig, Vice President of Major Gifts, United Way of Central Alabama

2020 Tocqueville Chairs brought dedication

Charlie Miller
Charlie Miller is this year’s chair of the Tocqueville Society for United Way of Central Alabama. Photo via Charlie Miller

UWCA’s Tocqueville Society appoints new chairpersons to lead the group’s philanthropic efforts each year. The volunteer-based position is responsible for raising $13 million and recruiting 75-100 new givers.

It’s no easy feat, but this year Charlie and Lisa Miller led the team straight to number one.

“When I found out COVID was going to be during my campaign I thought, ‘Oh no what have I gotten myself into?’ But, it’s turned out to be one of the most rewarding things that have ever happened to me in my life.

The ability that I’ve had to go out and talk to these generous donors across Birmingham and see how giving people are has been amazing. It’s been an absolutely great experience for me.”

Charlie Miller, 2020 Chair of the Tocqueville Society, United Way of Central Alabama

Since UWCA works directly with over 80 local nonprofits and agencies, the money raised goes right back into the five-county Central Alabama region they serve, which includes Jefferson, Shelby, Walker, Blount, St. Clair and Chilton counties.

“In my mind, UWCA is uniquely qualified to address these problems on a broad basis. That’s why the campaign has gone so well.

We’ve been able to communicate with the donors and prospective donors that UWCA is qualified to put that money to work very efficiently. Donors understand that we have such a great United Way here in Birmingham.”

Charlie Miller, 2020 Chair of the Tocqueville Society, United Way of Central Alabama

Leaders make UWCA’s Tocqueville Society strong

Every year, UWCA’s Tocqueville Society has wonderful chairs. However, in order to achieve this sort of success in 2020 requires a major pat on the back. Chairpersons have full-time jobs in addition to running the massive campaign.

“The dedication of Charlie and Lisa Miller is unbelievable. It’s humbling to see someone that has a huge full-time job devote that amount of time with passion and commitment.

That’s what makes UWCA strong. Volunteers know they make a difference, so they’re really committed to what they’re doing.”

Caroline Bolvig, Vice President of Major Gifts, United Way of Central Alabama

Nothing short of extraordinary

“UWCA is an extraordinary organization and the crown jewel of our charitable organizations in Birmingham. It’s been an honor, a pleasure and a privilege to work with UWCA this year and be chairman of this year’s Tocqueville Society.”

Charlie Miller, 2020 Chair of the Tocqueville Society, United Way of Central Alabama

Congratulations to this team! Learn more about United Way of Central Alabama through their website and when you follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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