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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. With Pence running the ship good luck with a new government building on the site. He does everything on the cheap except unnecessary roads line a new beltway( like we need that). Things like state of the art office buildings and light rail will never be seen as an asset to these types. They don't get that these are the things that help a city prosper.

  2. Does the $100,000,000,000 include salaries for members of Congress?

  3. "But that doesn't change how the piece plays to most of the people who will see it." If it stands out so little during the day as you seem to suggest maybe most of the people who actually see it will be those present when it is dark enough to experience its full effects.

  4. That's the mentality of most retail marketers. In this case Leo was asked to build the brand. HHG then had a bad sales quarter and rather than stay the course, now want to go back to the schlock that Zimmerman provides (at a considerable cut in price.) And while HHG salesmen are, by far, the pushiest salesmen I have ever experienced, I believe they are NOT paid on commission. But that doesn't mean they aren't trained to be aggressive.

  5. The reason HHG's sales team hits you from the moment you walk through the door is the same reason car salesmen do the same thing: Commission. HHG's folks are paid by commission they and need to hit sales targets or get cut, while BB does not. The sales figures are aggressive, so turnover rate is high. Electronics are the largest commission earners along with non-needed warranties, service plans etc, known in the industry as 'cheese'. The wholesale base price is listed on the cryptic price tag in the string of numbers near the bar code. Know how to decipher it and you get things at cost, with little to no commission to the sales persons. Whether or not this is fair, is more of a moral question than a financial one.

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