Founded in 1887 to address the city of Denver’s welfare problems, United Way now touches in excess of 50 million lives around the globe. In Brevard, the not-for-profit has been helping residents in need since 1957. Recognized as one of the premier United Way organizations in the state, Rob Rains has served as its leader for more than two decades, bringing business and community leaders together to address some of the area’s most critical problems.

Money raised has helped thousands with programs addressing critical needs such as children’s hunger, domestic violence, recovery/disaster funds, financial training and many, many more.

Rains reflects on his time at the organization in no uncertain terms. I continue to feel so passionate about United Way because it appeals to both my head and my heart,” he said.

Appeal is something that works well for the affable Rains as he navigates hotel after conference room over thousands of hours each year attending community events to leverage his contacts and extend awareness of the many needs that dollars can be put towards.

He does this by sharing the stories of impact: of the child who used to go hungry but now can count on a weekend meal; of the mother who doesn’t have to live any longer with an abusive husband. There are thousands more, and Rains believes they all are critical to the fundraising success of the organization.

If you can tell your story, and put a real face on how a difference is being made, people will want to help.”

Incredible Impact

And what a difference Rains has made: through the mid-point this year, plus campaigns over the past 22 years, he has overseen the fundraising of $117 million. For context, it’s important to understand that for every $1 raised, $3 is leveraged. At least.

For some agencies, money from United Way is used as the “local match” which can draw down state/and or federal funds. The Early Learning Coalition does this at a 16:1 ratio, turning the $264,000 United Way funding each year into about $4.4 million in state funding.

If the numbers have you swooning, let’s get back to the impact. It’s a theme that permeates everything about how the organization assigns funding to programs here.

“Agencies seeking funding must submit a budget request, program descriptions, and details on how impactful their programs are to our knowledgeable Community Impact process volunteers.” This spring, more than 100 volunteers participated in the review process.

Once the review panelists have made their recommendations, the Board of Directors—a veritable who’s who of community leaders including Board Chairperson Carol Craig, CEO/CFO Craig Technologies, Sherriff Wayne Ivey, Brevard County Sherriff’s office and Therrin Protze, COO, Kennedy Space Center Visitor’s Complex—steps up to put the final seal of approval on the recommendations.

In 2016, the board approved more than $6 million in donations collected through workforce payroll deductions. Those dollars will be leveraged into more than $20 million in impact. (There’s that word again).

Rains is happily sailing towards a 25 year stretch with United Way, assured but still humbled by the impact he has brought to the community.“I’m so fortunate to work with individuals wanting to make a difference—really just the most awesome people you’d want to be around,” he said.

There are many ways you can help the United Way. Visit online at or call 321.631.2740.◆