A local social services agency has set a new record goal, hoping to overcome this year’s fundraising campaign that fell just short of its goal.

The United Way of Johnson County hopes to raise $1.51 million this year, just over the $1.5 million the agency hoped to raise last year. The agency announced the goal to hundreds of people at a “Mission Possible,” spy-themed annual campaign kick-off breakfast on Thursday.

A video at the kick-off detailed how a woman and her grandson were homeless after she left an abusive relationship and how they got help through Human Services, which receives funding from the United Way.

An elderly couple told their story about getting rides to doctor’s appointments through Johnson County Senior Services, after 40 years of donating to United Way. Another woman talked about getting help for her daughter through Reach for Youth and Big Brothers, Big Sisters.

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United Way helps support 18 local nonprofit agencies, such as Johnson County Senior Services and Youth Connections. The agency also operates eight programs, including Christmas Angels and a new program that is meant to combat homelessness, No Place to Call Home. The agencies and programs helped 37,000 people in Johnson County last year.

The United Way’s goal this year comes after the agency just missed their $1.5 million goal last year, raising $1.4 million. No agency budgets were cut to make up the shortfall, said Nancy Lohr Plake, executive director.

“We were able to absorb some things from our budget, no agencies received a reduction in support,” she said.

Each year, the fundraising goal is set when United Way leaders look at the budgets of the participating agencies and what it costs to run United Way programs, Plake said.

A possible matching grant of $143,600 offered by the Indiana Association of United Ways should help the agency meet their $1.51 goal this year, Plake said. All of the money from the grant must go toward the No Place to Call Home initiative. However, some of the money that is donated to the actual campaign goal could qualify for matching dollars, she said. And money from new employee campaigns and donations that increase by at least 5 percent will earn matching money from the grant.

United Way officials are hoping that if donors see that their money may be matched, they may start a new campaign or donate more to qualify for a match, she said.

The United Way’s budget is entirely from donations from employee pledges, corporate gifts and other individual donations.

Companies that ran early employee campaigns have already raised $134,428, about 9 percent of the goal this year.

United Way volunteers have about eight months to raise the rest of the money.

Most of the funding comes from employees across the county pledging a set amount from each of their paychecks.

Volunteers go into county businesses and ask employees to pledge money. Those volunteers will be focusing on medium-sized local businesses and health care facilities, Plake said. More health care facilities have moved into the county and others are planned.

And employees and owners of locally-owned businesses are more apt to give, since they can see where their donation goes, Plake said.

“They are in the community and are interested in the community,” she said. “They more than likely know what United Way is doing in their community.”

By the numbers

Here is a look at how much money United Way has raised in past years:

2016 goal;$1.51 million

2015;$1.48 million

2014;$1.45 million

2013;$1.43 million

2012;$1.436 million

2011;$1.377 million

2010;$1.335 million

At a glance

Here is a look at how to donate to the United Way:

Ask your supervisor if your company currently runs a United Way of Johnson County campaign. If they do not, you can still give to United Way through one of the methods below.

Start a campaign

If you are interested in starting a campaign at your workplace, please call 317-736-7840.

How to donate

Checks can be mailed to the United Way office at:

United Way of Johnson County, P.O. Box 153, Franklin, IN 46131

Credit card donations may be made at the United Way Worldwide website at https://volunteer.truist.com/cng-uwa/donate/

Magen Kritsch is an editorial assistant at the Daily Journal. She can be reached at mkritsch@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2770.