Campaign just part of local United Way: Agency aims to meet community needs

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United Way of Central Indiana got its start in 1918 as Indianapolis’ War Chest.

Many decades and several name changes later, the organization still is fighting to raise enough money to meet vital community needs.

Leaders kicked off the 2005 campaign this month, trying to raise $36.6 million, mostly from workplace campaigns and corporate gifts. Together, the two sources represent about 97 percent of all pledges. UWCI’s campaign is the 22nd-largest in the country.

On these two pages, IBJ details where the money comes from and where it goes. Information was compiled based on preliminary financial reports for the fiscal year ended June 30.

All told, annual revenue surpassed $50 million; expenses exceeded $52 million. The gap was covered with proceeds from previous campaigns, other contributions and endowment income.

The annual campaign may be UWCI’s highest-profile activity, but it does more than raise money and distribute it. It also awards grants from separate funds for facility maintenance, capital projects and technology, and coordinates a number of other projects.

Initiatives like Youth as Resources-a program that gives small grants for youthrun community projects-have their roots at United Way, for example. UWCI also is the driving force for the Success by 6 school-readiness initiative.

Last year’s local campaign went into overtime, reaching the $36.6 million goal with the help of last-minute donations totaling nearly $1.5 million.

Most of the money raised goes to 105 member agencies in Marion, Boone, Hancock, Hamilton, Hendricks and Morgan counties. But some donors direct their contributions to specific charities, reducing the amount available to address what United Way leaders believe are the most significant health and human-service issues in the community.

UWCI staff and volunteers have identified four areas of emphasis for the next three years-successful kids, thriving families, vibrant communities and connected people. Agencies compete for funding and are subject to additional oversight after receiving it.

The local United Way estimates about 4 percent of the pledges won’t be collected because employees move or change jobs. It builds that assumption into its allocation budget. If more money than expected comes in, it is divided between the agency’s reserve fund and the allocation pool.

United Way of Central Indiana also runs fund-raising campaigns for public entities here, including federal and state government employees. Results from those efforts-which amounted to more than $1 million last year-are not included in the community campaign total.

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