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United Way drive sets local record

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The United Way of Bartholomew County fundraising campaign has set a new local record with more than $3.8 million in pledges to cover a range of social service programs.

The previous record was last year’s $3.7 million, which funded 29 nonprofit agencies and programs, from mentoring youths to fitness help for seniors.

With about a week remaining in the current push, leaders still hope to hit their $4 million goal. If that happens, the resulting $50-per-county-resident donation average is expected to once again lead the state’s 64 campaigns, said Mark Stewart, local United Way president.

“This is an incredibly generous community,” said Stewart, leading his first United Way fund drive in Bartholomew County.

Campaign chairman Chris Price agreed, and pinpointed a yet-to-be determined jump in manufacturing firms’ giving for part of the record.

“We’re busting it wide open,” Price said. “And we’re still hoping to push it until we hit that goal.”

The campaign wrap-up gathering and annual meeting will be Feb. 21 at Factory 12 Event Loft, 1235 Jackson St. Stewart mentioned that several companies still are in the midst of employee campaigns.

He also said leaders still are calling on prospective individual and business donors. Price, a Cummins Inc. employee, pointed out that even though Cummins announced layoffs in the fall, it still recorded a record employee campaign of $1.1 million locally.

Price also mentioned a slight dip in giving in the service sector, such as banks, was offset by manufacturing’s increased giving.

Stewart said it’s too early to tell what weaknesses might have surfaced in this year’s drive that could call for changes in next year’s campaign.

He said earlier in the campaign he can’t yet know what a record campaign means for the agencies being funded, because donors can designate their money for particular agencies.

Sometimes, that means donors working inside Bartholomew County but living outside the county target their giving toward nonprofits where they reside. Because of donor designations, about 13 percent of the total funds from the Bartholomew County drive in the past have been distributed to agencies in other counties where donors live.

About 25 percent of the funds each year are donor-designated, Stewart said.

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