This year’s United Way Campaign at UCF was an overwhelming success thanks in part to almost 100 advocates who worked in their colleges and departments to get the word out about the important work the nonprofit agency conducts in our community.

The advocates – employee or student volunteers who encouraged others to give – helped spread the word on all the university’s campuses. The results: a 77 percent increase in the number of donors contributed to the campaign and raised $164,359.19, more than $14,000 above the goal.

“We are happy to see more of our UCF community involved with this important effort,” said Tee Rogers, a coordinator of administrative services for the vice president of administration and finance and UCF’s United Way campaign manager. “The money donated supports causes meaningful to our Knight family. This campaign demonstrates the culture of generosity at UCF and many of the agencies we help also impact our students, faculty, and staff in time of need. We’re grateful to every volunteer and donor who helped us surpass our goal. Thank you for making a difference.”

Many advocates simply talked to their co-workers or sold baked goods to raise awareness and cash for the campaign. Others worked with their colleges or department to be a little more creative, such as Sue Ann Mann, administrative assistant in the office of the College of Arts & Humanities dean. The office held a “Give a Helping Hand” luncheon to encourage employees to donate. A speaker talked about the United Way, and those who donated were given a blue United Way “hand” paper cutout so they could write their name on it as a visible recognition of their support. The “hands” were posted in the dean’s office.

For Mann, becoming an advocate was her way of giving back after seeing the United Way help two families in her own community.

“One of the families was living in their car with three teenagers while still in high school, trying to maintain good grades,” Mann said. “Between the United Way and other connections, we were able to provide clothing, food and extra money to help with gas until the mother found a decent job.”

Esperanza Soto Arcino, a physics graduate-program assistant, simply wore her United Way T-shirt every Friday during the campaign and posted balloons and flyers to remind her colleagues about the campaign.

The most outstanding advocates of the 2015 campaign will be specially honored for their leadership role in the campaign’s success. A committee will select eight honorees and then a top honoree. The top eight will be honored with a certificate of excellence and an invitation to lunch with President John C. Hitt. The top honoree will also earn a $250 award and a trophy sponsored by Barnes & Noble.

“We are so grateful for our advocates,” said Richard Sloane, director of community relations for the College of Education and Human Performance and United Way Campaign chair for 2015. “We also wanted to thank everyone who participated by attending one of our events, by simply helping spread the word for such a great cause and for donating. We couldn’t do it without them.”