United Way of Metropolitan Dallas launches fundraiser with $3 million in hand

The United Way of Metropolitan Dallas’ annual fundraiser is underway with a three-year goal to raise $120 million from businesses and their employees to benefit community programs.

This year’s campaign received an instant boost from three prominent business leaders at a launch event on Thursday. Curtis Farmer, CEO of Comerica Inc., Steven Williams, CEO of PepsiCo Foods North America, and Jean Savage, CEO of Trinity Industries, each donated $1 million on behalf of their companies.

Donations are earmarked for United Way’s centennial in 2025 and will continue to support education, income and health projects across the region. United Way is in its 98th year in Dallas, although the in-person pandemic campaign has been underway for a few years.

Last year, United Way raised $79.1 million, including $38 million from a large influx of public funds related to pandemic response and recovery. The group does not expect a repeat of government subsidies at this historic level.

Jean Savage, CEO of Trinity Industries(DANIEL SCOTT PHOTOGRAPHY)

Savage, chairman of this year’s campaign, said the next 12 months will be filled with finding companies to grow the campaign. She cited a number of corporate moves in Dallas-Fort Worth, including the relocation of industrial giant Caterpillar Inc.’s headquarters from the Chicago area to Irving. The move made Dallas-Fort Worth home to 24 Fortune 500 companies, many of which moved from California or other states.

“I wouldn’t say we have too many businesses, but we have opportunities,” Savage said.

Williams, chairman of the United Way board and chairman of the 2024-2025 campaign, said PepsiCo has been involved with United Way for more than 50 years. The division he leads includes Plano-based Frito-Lay, which has pledged as a North American company regional supporter for this year’s FIFA World Cup. Dallas will be a host city for the 2026 tournament.

“There’s just no place like Dallas,” Williams said.

United Way Metropolitan of Dallas is part of a donation society called the Tocqueville Society. Donors pay $10,000 annually per person to be recognized as a member. The Tocqueville Society in Birmingham, Alabama has 200 more members than Dallas, said Jennifer Sampson, president and CEO of United Way of Metropolitan Dallas. Sampson said Birmingham raises about $10 million more a year than Dallas in freebies from Tocqueville.

“We have work to do, but I have no doubt that we will crush those goals,” Sampson said.

Meet the playmakers who took United Way’s endowment to over $100 million