Business/Nonprofits / Isabella County

United Way Fund Drive shatters record

Isabella County’s United Way Fund Drive has raised more than $410,000 since August and will be releasing the distribution of the funds this week.

Donations and money raised through United Way will be distributed to agencies such as Child Advocacy, Women’s Aid Service, American Red Cross, Friends of Isabella Seniors and other nonprofit organizations in Isabella County.

On Feb. 15, the fund distribution committee met and compiled a list of recommendations as to how the money should be distributed across the county. The committee brought these recommendations in front of the Isabella County Board on Feb. 19.

With 20 programs and 13 agencies within those programs, the distribution process is based on priority. Community input helps the committee in ranking these programs.

“There’s a lot of work to do to meet the needs of the agencies within the county,” said Tom Olver, executive director at United Way of Isabella County.

This year, United Way gained 395 new donors, many from the Central Michigan University campus.

“It’s growth that we haven’t seen in a while,” Olver said. “We hope to expand on that growth.”

While there were many successful drives and events in 2012, Olver credited Dance United, an event organized and run by an RPL 400: Special Issues in Leisure Services class, as one of the most successful and credits it entirely to the students.

“We will rely heavily on their efforts for next year,” Olver said. “It was great fund-raising and great participation.”

Dance United was held Nov. 7 and showcased six couples competing in a dance-off for donations for their charities and the sake of the CMU Fund Drive for United Way. University First Lady Elizabeth Ross and Director of the Leadership Institute Dan Gaken were among those competing.

While fund-raising takes place all year round, the majority of events are held in the last few months of the year, but Olver said there is an “ongoing strategical planning process” throughout the year to make each year more successful than the last.

“We want to be good stewards to the resources entrusted to our care,” Olver said.

The United Way Fund Drive began in August of last year and ran through Dec. 31. CMU employees were the largest contributors to the event, raising $74,447. Fundraising quieted down at the end of October and halted completely for all of November in order to give attention to other business’ fundraising efforts.

The Fund Drive helps support programs like The Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity and others across Isabella County.

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