One of the largest challenges United Way of Freeborn County faces is explaining how United Way has changed at the local, national and international level.
Thirty years ago, when many of “our parents” were in the workforce, their companies would run a United Way campaign and employees would have the opportunity to choose which charities they wanted to donate to through the ease of payroll deduction.
And while some of the basic operations of United Way remain the same – offering employees the opportunity to give back to their community through small payroll deductions that add up to a large contribution – much more of our work has changed.
In 2002, United Way of America announced a shift in their business model to focus on Community Impact. By 2007 most major United Ways in the United States adopted a strategic plan to incorporate Community Impact.
United Way of Freeborn County has been in existence in some form or another since the 1920’s. Over the last year, our Board of Directors have taken a hard look at the way we do business, and how they align with the strategic plans of other United Ways across the country.
Make no mistake. We’re focused on Freeborn County— a local organization, governed by a local volunteer Board of Directors, supported by local individuals and companies. The money that is raised here, stays here and local volunteers make decisions about how best to use the funds that we raise.
But like any local organization, we need to look at the bigger picture. That picture led us to reconsider our methods of doing business.
In our old model, we raised money and then handed it back out to local non-profits working in the community. Often, those local non-profits have been receiving the same funding for the same programs for the same social issues for decades.
While this is still an important piece of what we do – with funding provided to 19 programs at 10 non-profits – we are looking beyond.
Our newer “community-level” work focuses on creating meaningful, long-lasting changes that impact everyone in our community. And that’s exactly what “community impact” is – a way to convene and mobilize local partners, including businesses, community leaders, public officials and community residents, to expand opportunities for people to succeed. An example of this kind of work would be our partnerships with Channel One Regional Food Bank to start Pop Up Pantries to bring more than 122,000 pounds into our county—one of the underserved counties for food access.
Through our community-level work, United Way advances the common good. Our focus is on the building blocks for a good quality of life for everyone in our community – education, income, and health. All three of these building blocks are critical – remove any one and the other two will topple. However, if we build them all up, we will have a strong foundation for collective success. United Way of Freeborn County is focused on completing this work through in-house initiatives and programs—such as our developing Volunteer Center, the Winter Gear Drive, Imagination Library and more.
United Way recruits people and organizations who bring the passion, expertise and resources needed to get things done. But we can’t do this work alone. We need people to be part of this change by giving, advocating and volunteering. Please join the movement today by donating at http://unitedwayfc.org/donate