United Way raises record amount

The United Way of Johnson County has raised more money than ever in its annual campaign to help fund local organizations that help people in need.

The agency raised $1,551,251, which is just short of the the fundraising goal of $1,571,000. The goal represents a 2 percent increase from last year’s final tally of $1,539,000. The money raised last year was also record breaking.

The money raised, primarily through employees pledging money and businesses donating, goes to support 18 local agencies, including Gateway Services and American Red Cross. Fundraising also supports seven United Way programs, such as Christmas Angels, which gives children holiday gifts, and Fast Track, which gives school supplies to hundreds of needy children in the county.

An estimated 39,000 people in the county were helped by a United Way agency last year, which is about 25 percent of the county’s population, said Nancy Lohr-Plake, executive director of the United Way.

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The results of the nearly year-long campaign were announced at the agency’s annual wrap-up event at The Sycamore at Mallow Run on Wednesday.

About 100 people attended the annual event and companies that ran campaigns were honored.

Fundraising in this year’s campaign was helped by a $150,580 matching fund grant through Indiana United Ways, funded by the Lilly Endowment. Some funds raised such as new employee campaigns and increases in corporate funding or new corporate giving were eligible to be matched, Plake said. 

The grant money will be used to support No Place to Call Home, which is an internal United Way program. United Way of Johnson County contracts with KIC-IT, a United Way agency, to implement the program which helps lift people out of homelessness.

Part of the grant money will also be used to hire a new employee for United Way of Johnson County to fill a position that has been vacant for years, Plake said. 

While the actual grant money is not counted toward the campaign total, people are more eager to give if they know their money is being matched, she said.

"That always motivates givers to increase giving if they know their gift will be somehow matched," Plake said.

Volunteers concentrated on giving the 36 companies, non-profit agencies and government entities that run existing campaigns one-on-one attention, Plake said.

For example, a campaign manager for Caterpillar told agency volunteers that employees wanted to see how their money was helping the community. Agency volunteers organized panel discussions with volunteers and employees of non-profit organizations the agency supports, Plake said.

The tactic helped Caterpillar increase donations by 27 percent and with employee giving and corporate donations, the company raised $129,906 toward the campaign goal.

Plake is also crediting campaign managers at individual companies for planning activities and campaigns that would reach employees and increase giving, she said.

"They know what will work, they know what their employees want to see," Plake said.

Four companies also started new campaigns. They are the Central Nine Career Center, Edinburgh Community Schools, Treybourne Wealth Planners and Honey Grove Educational Center.

Those companies worked to bring in an additional $8,600 to the campaign.

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Here’s a look at how much has been raised by United Way of Johnson County during the past five years:


2018: $1,539,000


2016: $1,486,000

2015: $1,455,000

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Awards were presented Wednesday during the United Way of Johnson County campaign dinner.

Outstanding campaign in the banking division: Horizon Bank

Outstanding campaign in education: Nineveh-Hensley Jackson Schools

Outstanding government or nonprofit campaign: Johnson County Public Library

Outstanding employee campaign by a manufacturing company: Caterpillar

Outstanding employee campaign by a major professional firm: Compass Pointe CPAs

Outstanding employee campaign in retail: Meijer in Franklin and Greenwood

Outstanding employee campaign in Health Care: WindRose Health

Outstanding employee campaign in the small-company division: Indiana American Water corporate office

Outstanding corporate giving: Cummins

Special recognition award for companies based elsewhere, but have employees in the county: Cummins and Eli Lilly.

Paramount Award: Mutual Savings Bank