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United Way turns to coupons to lure donors

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United Way of Central Indiana will try to reverse a decline in donations this year by offering donors discounts at national and local retailers.

The local organization, which supports more than 100 human-service agencies, is several weeks away from announcing its 2011 campaign goal, but it’s already rolling out incentives.

People who give at least $150 will be allowed to enroll in Caring Club, which gives them access to deals from retailers such as Costco, Zales and the NFL fan shop.

The local United Way last year raised $38.2 million, which was short of its $41 million goal and slightly less than the previous year’s $38.8 million.

In addition to fewer dollars, the group saw a continued decline in the number of donors, which fell 3 percent, to 73,318.

United Way gets 98 percent of its donations through workplace campaigns, but as Eli Lilly and Co. and other big corporations downsize, the organization is trying to appeal directly to the general public.

“This trend in donor-loss is nationwide,” CEO Ellen Annala said. “Everybody is trying lots of things.”

Last year, United Way launched a promotion with the Indianapolis Colts in which first-time donors who gave at least $150 and past donors who upped their giving by that amount were entered to win a trip to the Super Bowl.

The Colts sponsorship helped United Way land 20,189 new donors, a 4-percent increase over the previous year, Annala said. The Colts will sponsor United Way and give away Super Bowl tickets again this year. 

Another benefit to the Caring Club, which was launched by United Way in Boston, is it creates an additional reason to communicate with donors on a regular basis outside the workplace, Annala said.

She hopes that will keep donors involved with United Way longer. “It’s not just increasing the numbers,” she said. “It’s increasing the relationship.”

The decline in giving last year prompted United Way to cut its funding to agencies and trim three positions from its own staff, which now consists of the equivalent of 97 full-time employees, Annala said. She said the next fundraising goal, to be announced in September, will be less ambitious but higher than the amount raised last year.

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  • AMEN
    Amen to your comments...having worked at United Way I could tell you stories that would turn your hair white. So much goes on with your donations...it's shameful
  • Don't Donate to United Way
    Please people if you want to donate your money to a charity, give it directly to the charity. Do not give it to the United Way. The UW takes a hefty cut for themselves before passing along themoney. Their executives are extremely well paid, the United Way of Central Indiana has several excutives over $100K, some over $200K.
  • coupons
    Awesome, Printapon saves me time and money! You can see the coupons instantly and don't have to search for ones.
  • Caring Club
    This program is not worth it to donate for Central Indiana! Nothing truly worth it!

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  1. So much for Eric Holder's conversation about race. If white people have got something to say, they get sued over it. Bottom line: white people have un-freer speech than others as a consequence of the misnamed "Civil rights laws."

  2. I agree, having seen three shows, that I was less than wowed. Disappointing!!

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  4. Say It Loud, I'm Black and Ashamed: It's too bad that with certain "black" entertainment events, it seems violence and thuggery follows and the collateral damage that it leaves behinds continues to be a strain on the city in terms of people getting hurt, killed or becoming victims of crimes and/or stretching city resources. I remember shopping in the Meadows area years ago until violence and crime ended make most of the business pack you and leave as did with Lafayette Square and Washington Square. Over the past 10 to 12 years, I remember going to the Indiana Black Expo Soul Picnic in Washington Park. Violence, gang fights and homicides ended that. My great grandmother still bears the scares on her leg from when she was trampled by a group of thugs running from gun fire from a rival gang. With hundreds of police offices downtown still multiple shootings, people getting shot downtown during Black Expo. A number of people getting shots or murdered at black clubs around the city like Club Six on the west side, The Industry downtown, Jamal Tinsley's shot out in front of the Conrad, multiple fights and shootings at the skating rinks, shootings at Circle Center Mall and shooting and robberies and car jackings at Lafayette Mall. Shootings and gang violence and the State Fair. I can go on and on and on. Now Broad Ripple. (Shaking head side to side) Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Ashamed.

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