IU Bloomington United Way campaign exceeds fundraising goal

The Indiana University Bloomington community pulled together in many ways in 2020, including its continued and generous support of Monroe, Owen and Greene counties by giving to the United Way of Monroe County campaign.

A woman carries a watermelon for a food bank giveawayView print quality image
IU Bloomington's United Way campaign helped fund the Hoosier Hills Food Bank's fresh food giveaways. Photo by Sohile Ali, Office of the Provost

For the first time since 2017, the campus surpassed its campaign goal of $785,000 by raising $787,782. This was $28,634 more than in 2019 and 66% of United Way of Monroe County's entire community fundraising total of $1,186,742.

United Way challenged the community to reimagine what a better normal looks like for all local individuals -- including the one in three who struggles to makes ends meet living either at or below the poverty line. A total of 1,173 IU Bloomington employees met this challenge by donating to support United Ways' 24 partner agencies and numerous community collaborations that provide expanded support for food assistance, addiction recovery services, child care support and so many other crucial services.

Donors included 266 Vanguards (those who donate at least $1,000) and 16 Young Leaders (individuals or couples under 40 years of age who give $500 or more.) The number of Vanguards increased by 10 individuals from 2019 to 2020. This campaign was IU Bloomington's first mostly online campaign, without the massive distribution of pledge cards that typically takes place during normal times on campus.

Employees volunteered across campus to transform 2020's campaign events into virtual occasions. Trent Deckard, Kelley School of Business lecturer and co-Vanguard chair for United Way of Monroe County, hosted a Facebook Live comic book reading of Superman and Spiderman that raised $200. Viewers donated anywhere from a penny to $5 per page, as well as payroll deduction gifts.

IU United Way team captain Laura Littlepage, a clinical associate professor in the Paul H. O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, turned the school's annual chili cookoff into an online chili auction, raising $410. Seven O'Neill volunteer chefs prepared their own special recipes, which were bid upon by email and delivered from a safe distance to the winners' homes. Chefs also offered up their recipes for auction, and one recipe sold for $100.

Students also stepped up to support Student United Way's inaugural socially distanced concert. In partnership with the Bloomington Delta Music Club, Student United Way held the event at the IU Open Air Venue in Dunn Meadow. Spectators enjoyed three hours of classic rock, jazz, disco and punk while donating over $350.

In addition to its normal annual funding of services, United Way partnered with 30 other local organizations to launch the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund to meet the growing demand for safety net services in light of the pandemic. To date, the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund has raised and distributed over $1.6 million in donated funds and is currently entering its fifth fundraising and distribution phase for organizations serving those who have been hit hardest by the pandemic.

These accomplishments would not have been possible without IU's generous donors, whose support means that United Way of Monroe County can continue its essential collaborations with community partners in reimagining a future that works better for everyone as the pandemic winds down.

Amy Kendall is the coordinator for the IU United Way campaign.