Wednesday, October 28, 2009

McIntyre back on the campaign trail

Jane McIntyre feels like she's back on the campaign trail.

In many ways the former school board member is.

It's a different kind of campaign, one she believes is critically important if the least among us are to receive the help they need.

In August, McIntyre (pictured above speaking yet another crowd) took over the embattled United Way of Central Carolinas and immediately hit the trail to repair the agency's image -- crippled for more than a year by what many saw as exorbitant pay and benefits paid to former United Way head Gloria Pace King.

In the furor, donations to last year's United Way campaign fell by almost a third and many agencies saw their funding cut by 40 percent.
So McIntyre is running, every day, her focus on the current campaign.

"There's a lot at risk here," she told The Cliff. "People are hurting. Agencies are trying hard to serve many more people than they've ever served with less dollars. United Way has to be an effective conduit to drive more dollars to these community agencies."

That's the message she'll take next Wednesday to a joint lunch meeting of the Charlotte chapters of the International Association of Business Communicators and the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

The topic: Sharing her operational and communication strategies for turning around a very troubled and very public organization.

Since McIntyre took United Way's reins, the only times she's said no to an invite is when she had to be some place else. So far, she's spoken to 70 groups about the efforts to overhaul the agency. She makes herself available to media. Often, she runs to three to five appearances or interviews a day.
"I read a survey that said, 'We need to hear directly from the person now in charge,'" she said. "That was very clear. Well, here she is."

Her message is consistent -- she uses no notes -- but tweaked to "keep it from becoming boring."
"I'm not bored with myself yet," she said. "But I worry that people will get bored with the message -- I don't want them to say 'I've have read that 10 times.' So I seem to always have something new to tell them.
"The demands of this campaign are very similar to a political campaign. You want to answer questions consistently. It's easy if you talk to people straight."

Her focus on the United Way campaign is singular. She's cancelled vacations, or cut out-of-town visits short to stay in the region to get the message out. "There's too much to be done here," she said.

Wednesday, the professional business communicators and funders will hear her message and the importance of transperancy and straight talk.

"The cuts to agencies were substantial, and I strongly believe that many agencies cannot sustain another round of cuts," McIntyre said. "... So it's truly a chance of a lifetime to change the business model of United Way and to have a positive impact on a great many people."
Want to go? The lunchtime program runs from 11:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. at the Academic Center at Johnson & Wales University, 801 W. Trade St. Cost: $20 for IABC and AFP members; $35 for nonmembers. RSVP by Monday at 5 p.m. by clicking here.