The United Way of Johnson County has raised a record amount of money in its annual campaign to fund organizations that run senior centers, children’s after school programs and help people in need.

The agency raised $1,505,798, which is just short of the $1.51 million goal, its leaders announced in the organization’s annual celebration on Wednesday evening at Triple Play BBQ in Franklin.

The money raised, primarily through employees pledging money and businesses donating, each year goes to support 18 local agencies such as Gateway Services, Youth Connections and American Red Cross. Fundraising also supports eight United Way programs, such as Christmas Angels, which gives children holiday gifts, and Operation Bundle Up, which gives coats to hundreds of children.

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An estimated 37,000 people in the county were helped by a United Way agency last year.

The amount of the campaign shortfall is negligible and won’t affect budgets of the non-profit agencies United Way supports, executive director Nancy Lohr Plake said.

United Way of Johnson County raised the $143,600 that allowed them to get a matching UnitedIN2016 grant from the Indiana Association of United Ways. Matching money from the grant will be used for the internal program, “No Place to Call Home.” The program launched last fall and was created to help combat homelessness in the county.

Money that came from new campaigns, new corporate gifts or were a five percent increase from the previous year’s donation were matched by money from the grant, said Plake.

Most of the money raised comes from donations by employees who work at local businesses and corporate donors.

An uptick of manufacturing donations helped the agency raise the most money ever, with NSK and Caterpillar Remanufacturing running aggressive campaigns. The two companies raised more than $200,000 of the goal, Plake said.

Eli Lilly and Company raised $276,000 or 18 percent of the campaign and Cummins Foundation raised $136,000.

Caterpillar took a different approach to its campaign, with volunteers touting the good work of the United Way agencies, said Don Kinsey, facilities manager at Caterpillar.

Employees toured the agencies that are helped by United Way funds. And employees who had been helped by United Way agencies recorded testimonials, which were played during employee meetings to try to get other employees to donate, said Kinsey.

“You can’t match that experience when you see the people that are benefactors of these services,” he said. “When they see their peers were benefited from these agencies and they are sitting right next to them.”

Their efforts earned the business the Paramount Award at the event.

Employee and corporate giving was up in other categories too, with local school district employees, small businesses and professional businesses kicking in more, said Plake.

Donations that come from mailing donation cards to residents increased as well, Plake said.

United Way volunteers and workers focused on personal campaign pledge cards, with workers being told that just a little extra donation would make their donation eligible for matching grant dollars, Plake said.

At a glance

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

2017:$1,505,798

2016: $1,486,000

2015: $1,455,000

2014: $1,430,000

2013: $1,436,000

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