United Way kicks off local effort to raise $42.5M

United Way of Central Indiana is aiming to raise $42.5 million through its annual fundraising campaign, the not-for-profit announced Thursday.

Donors pledged a record $41 million to the Indianapolis-based agency last year. The money is used to support 93 member agencies in six counties.

Early pledges already amount to almost $8 million, or 19 percent of the goal.

Officials hope to keep improving their results, working up to a $50 million target within five years.

United Way CEO Ann Murtlow kicked off the fundraising effort Thursday afternoon with an assist from the Indianapolis Colts and volunteer campaign chairman Andy Mohr, who owns nine auto dealerships.

This is the Colts’ fourth year as a campaign sponsor. The team is offering donors the chance to win two tickets to the 2014 Super Bowl. Those who make a new gift of $150 (or increase last year’s gift by the same amount) will be entered in a drawing for the tickets.

Mohr is arranging for another prize to spur larger "leadership level" donations: a 2014 Toyota Corolla.

The campaign announcement came during a lunchtime volunteer fair on Monument Circle featuring more than three dozen United Way member agencies.

UWCI also used the occasion to solicit volunteers for its ReadUP youth literacy program. Nearly 700 area residents have signed up to be reading tutors, but the organization is seeking a total of 1,200.

Murtlow is leading her first campaign since taking the reins from longtime United Way CEO Ellen Annala in April.

“United Way’s unique value is harnessing the power of our collective resources to make a difference in the areas of education, income stability, health and basic needs,” Murtlow said in a prepared statement. “This common-sense approach allows us to serve today while also addressing the root causes of basic needs to improve our community long term.”

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