United Way teams with Colts for fundraising campaign

United Way of Central Indiana will appeal to Colts fandom this fall as it tries to meet an all-time high fundraising goal of $41 million.

United Way kicked off its annual campaign Friday at Monument Circle with a pep rally-style event. In a first-time strategic partnership with United Way, the Colts are sponsoring giveaways—including a free trip to the 2011 Super Bowl in Dallas—that will be available to anyone who donates, not just people who give through their workplace.

Campaign chairman Don Knebel, a partner at local law firm Barnes & Thornburg LLP, said he wants to reach beyond United Way's traditional donor base of employees at the area's largest companies. "This is a campaign for everybody," he said.

United Way set a goal of adding 2,500 new donors, a 4-percent increase over last year.

Knebel, a longtime United Way volunteer, said he has noticed the changing complexion of the local economy for years. More people are working for small, entrepreneurial companies. Although United Way tries to establish new workplace campaigns, Knebel said it might be easier to recruit those companies if two or three of their employees already have donated on their own.

The big prizes, including the Super Bowl trip and a chance to meet Peyton Manning, will be awarded through a drawing. To be entered in the drawing, donors must give at least $100 more to United Way than last year. For a new donor, $100 would be enough to qualify.

"The $100 gift was well thought out," Knebel said. He feels most working people can afford to give roughly $2 per pay period.

United Way and the Colts also are teaming up to promote giving via text message. Text-based gifts of at least $10 will make donors eligible to win prizes such as Colts jerseys.

Donations from ProLiance Energy and the Eli Lilly Foundation will support advertising the promotions during Colts game broadcasts and in the team's program book.

Last year United Way of Central Indiana raised $38.8 million. Its highest previous goal was $40 million.

United Way raises money to fund affiliated human-service agencies in Boone, Hamilton, Hendricks, Marion and Morgan counties. It also supports special initiatives such as early childhood literacy and winter utility assistance.

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