United Way said today in a press release that it hopes the high-profile donation will spur more "leadership" gifts of $25,000 or more, or help recruit other CEOs as new donors.
The Eli Lilly and Co. Foundation will match the Lechleiters' contribution.
The local United Way is trying to catch up with other cities that have seen more success in recruiting top-tier donors, said Angela Dabney, senior vice president of resource development. United Way of Central Indiana plans to use more challenge grants to raise its ranks of wealthy donors.
Last October, WellPoint CEO Angela Braly and her husband, Doug, pledged $300,000 over three years. The money is used as matching grants for donors who want to join United Way's Tocqueville Society, which requires $10,000 a year in donations, or Women United, which requires $2,500.
So far, United Way has raised $160,000 through the Braly matching gift.
The Lechleiters are already deeply involved with United Way. John Lechleiter is on the board of directors. Sarah Lechleiter was one of the founding members of Women United in 2003.