United Way exceeds 2021 Annual Campaign goal raising $36.25M. Here’s how they did it.


United Way
Mervyn H. Sterne Volunteer Award Winner Hatton Smith, CEO of Back Forty Beer Company with Campaign Chair Doug Coltharp. Photo via United Way of Central Alabama

United Way of Central Alabama (UWCA) has announced it exceeded the 2021 Annual Campaign fundraising goal — raising  $36,250,000. The amount announced reflects pledge estimates and not the final results of companies that are still conducting campaigns or individuals who have not renewed pledges in writing.

“The campaign results this year really underscore the incredible generosity of the Greater Birmingham community,” said Doug Coltharp, this year’s Annual Campaign Chair at the celebration held on United Way’s campus in Birmingham. 

“The way our community has responded to the exacerbated needs that have been borne out of the pandemic is remarkable. Businesses and individuals in this community are incredibly generous. The philanthropic and civic commitment in this community is unparalleled across the country. We know that there are people that are hurting out there and who continue to have needs. United Way is stepping into the breach to meet those needs.”

United Way Campaign Recap

United Way
UWCA’s John Martin, Doug Coltharp, Alison Pritchett and Jerome Luke. Photo via Jacob Blankenship for Bham Now

According to John Martin, Sr. VP of Resource Development at UWCA, approximately 900 volunteers contributed more than 26,000 hours of their time to the community in this six-month fundraising period.

Below is a recap of the 2021 Annual Campaign’s most notable accomplishments:

Pacesetter Campaign

This year’s campaign started in the summer of 2021 with the annual Pacesetter Campaign. Several local businesses that share United Way’s commitment to the community initiate internal campaigns early, helping to “get the ball rolling” on donations. This year, the Pacesetter Campaign under the leadership of volunteer,Chris Harmon, raised $10.3 million dollars toward the campaign’s total goal.

Top Three United Way Campaigns in 2021

Three campaigns this year were conducted by Regions Bank, Alabama Power Company and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama. 

Combined, the three corporations raised a total of 11 million dollars for the 2021 Annual Campaign.

Other accomplishments are:

  • 275 new J. Mason Davis Leadership Society Members
  • 86 new Tocqueville Members.
  • 36 new Daniel Dunne Circle ($25,000 Giving Level) Members.
  • 1 new Million Dollar Roundtable Member.

Campaign Award Winners

United Way’s 2021 Class of Loaned Executives is ready to make a difference
Members of the 2021 United Way of Central Alabama Loaned Executive program. Photo via United Way of Central Alabama

This year’s campaign celebration also honored the winners of the 2021 Mervyn H. Sterne Award and the 2021 Crawford T. Johnson Loaned Executive of The Year Award.

Volunteers and individuals are recognized with awards and accolades for their devotion and contributions in the areas of education, health and financial stability. Campaign Award winners contribute to the annual community campaign in several ways.

Mervyn H. Sterne Award

In 1931, one of the darkest years of the Depression, Mervyn Stern served as campaign chairman, raising $750,000 in two weeks. This was a 50% increase over the previous year’s campaign. His efforts paid off the next year when the campaign raised $472,000. United Way decided to honor his contributions by creating an award for people with similar passions. The award is given to a standout campaign unit or volunteer who has made a substantial contribution to the campaign.

The 2021 Mervyn H. Sterne Volunteer Award Winner is Hatton Smith, CEO of Back Forty Beer Company who led the Major Gifts Division of the Campaign. 

Crawford T. Johnson Loaned Executive of The Year Award 

Crawford T. Johnson was a founding member and the first President of the Birmingham Community Chest (now known as United Way of Central Alabama), and his volunteering and sense of civic responsibility go on today. In 1902, Johnson also established the Birmingham Coca-Cola Bottling Company. 

The 2021 Crawford T. Johnson Loaned Executive of the Year Award, Matt Schrecongost, Protective Life Corporation

Other Honors:

Coltharp Ireland
Mallie Ireland with Doug Coltharp. Photo via United Way

Additional honors given at the celebration:

Major Gifts Award:

  • 2021 Tocqueville Society Award, Mallie Ireland and Stewart Dansby

Team Choice Awards

  • 9 Figures of Hope: Matt Schrecongost, Protective Life Corporation
  • More Money, Less Problems: Elizabeth Campbell, Encompass Health
  • Paper Chasers: (Co-Team Choice winners) 
    • Chad Fitch, Alabama Power Company
    • Yvette Harper, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama


United Way Loaned Executives. Photo via United Way of Central Alabama

This year’s celebration was sponsored by Regions Financial Corporation, Brasfield & Gorrie, Encompass Health, AmFirst Federal Credit Union, Behavioral Health Systems

United Way of Central Alabama serves six counties: Jefferson, Shelby, St. Clair, Blount and Walker and 80+ agencies.

Their programs include:

Even though the campaign has officially finished — donations and support are welcome now and throughout the coming year.  Pledge your support at https://www.uwca.org/get-involved/give/

Sponsored by:

Pat Byington
Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.

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