United Way Fundraising Record

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COLUMBIA – The Heart of Missouri United Way completed its 2016 fundraising campaign Monday and announced Thursday it has exceeded its $3 million goal.

More than 200 local businesses, 2,000 volunteers and 8,000 donors contributed to help reach the organization’s largest goal to date.

Andrew Grabau, Executive Director for the Heart of America United Way, said this unites the community in a positive way.

“It’s a rally cry,” Grabau said. “It brings the community together and rallies around the issue of, 'How are we going to raise our community up and have the type of community that we really want to have?'”

The Heart of America United Way consists of volunteers and donors from Boone, Howard and Cooper Counties.

Mike Messer, 2016 community campaign chair, said it’s a great feeling to see the reward and reach the finish line after five months of work.

“It feels amazing. It’s actually one of the greatest feelings I’ve ever had, other than having kids and getting married, the accomplishment of seeing how there are so many folks that can come together for a common purpose,” Messer said. “These 2,000 volunteers are people that have jobs, have a home life, but they take time out of their daily lives to try and find a way to have companies and individuals give.”

This total fundraising amount is a 3 percent increase from 2015, and the number of companies and partnering agencies holding large workplace fundraisers increased from 44 to 54.

“In these times, to increase any kind of giving to charitable organizations, it’s difficult to go up instead of down,” Messer said.

The money goes directly into 33 local nonprofit agencies. This supports each agency’s programs to help alleviate poverty in the three counties.

“Now that we’ve been entrusted with a significant portion of funds from the community, now we invest it back, on their behalf, in addressing poverty,” Grabau said. “Funding goes and supports our agencies directly with program support.”

The aid extends past financial care, as the United Way also assists agencies in capacity support, with partners who help them run more efficiently in the community.

Messer said he thinks the work of organizations like the United Way is a breath of positive, fresh air in the community.

“In all the trying times that we see on the news and things going on in the world, this type of rally with focus on ourselves and community, gives a huge outpouring of energy and excitement that we achieved this goal together.”

Those interested in volunteering or partnering with agencies can visit uwheartmo.org or the Heart of America United Way Facebook page.