Study: United Way grants provide $45M annual boost for regional economy

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Grants provided by the United Way of Central Indiana over the past two-and-a-half years have helped support regional not-for-profits that made a $1.52 billion impact on the regional economy, according to a study conducted by the Indiana University Kelley School of Business’s Indiana Business Research Center released Tuesday.

The study, commissioned by the United Way, looked at the grant totals, jobs supported and contributions to the region’s gross domestic product from the beginning of 2020 through the first half of this year. It’s the first study that measures the effects of grants given by the organization.

Over that period, the organization provided 1,776 grants totaling $135 million to 387 different organizations in Boone, Hamilton, Hancock, Hendricks, Marion, Morgan and Putnam counties. Researchers estimated those grants supported 800 jobs per year in the region. Those 800 jobs are worth $36 million in annual employee compensation, the study said, creating an average annual impact of $45.1 million on the region’s gross domestic product.

The study also found that 320 not-for-profits that receive funding from United Way directly employ 17,270 workers and generate an additional 5,780 supporting jobs. The total estimated GDP from those not-for-profits is more than $1.52 billion, the report said.

United Way commissioned the study in January. The IBRC said it used detailed grant data provided by United Way and publicly available IRS 990 data on not-for-profit organizations to conduct their research.

Fred Payne, president and CEO of United Way, told IBJ that the data helps to tell a more complete story about the organization’s impact.

“This report is just another example of how multifaceted the impact that United Way and its partner organizations are having out in the community, including the economy,” Payne said.

There aren’t easily comparable studies from other human service organizations, Payne and Stephanie Fritz, vice president of strategic intelligence and information, told IBJ. Payne said the estimated impact is clearly significant for the sector.

The job estimates are conservative, Payne said, because not all potential jobs were included. Fritz told IBJ that the research does not include the jobs created by not-for-profits that include workforce development.

“These findings clearly demonstrate that United Way has a significant impact on the central Indiana economy,” the report’s conclusion states.

The bulk of United Way’s grant dollars, at $43.6 million, went toward a “family opportunity” strategy. The second most, at $39.4 million, was invested in fulfilling basic needs. The third highest amount was in COVID-19 relief, at $26.5 million.

Payne said those amounts reflect the organization’s current strategic goals. Moving forward, though, pandemic funding will dwindle. In the next five years, United Way’s newest strategic plan focuses on the leading indicators of poverty. Payne said these are basic needs, early child care and early learning, safe and affordable housing, and economic mobility.

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One thought on “Study: United Way grants provide $45M annual boost for regional economy

  1. How much did it cost for the United way to be a pass through funnel that skims 10% off the top on the way to a deserving charity?

    4.5mm for this article to be written? Woof

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