Five things to know about United Way in 2020

Five things to know about United Way in 2020

When United Way of Greater St. Louis started nearly 100 years ago, the world was a very different place. Penicillin hadn’t been discovered yet. Movies with sound were hitting the market. And, women had just secured the right to vote.

There’s no doubt that United Way’s impact has been and is HUGE. Over the past nearly 100 years, we’ve impacted 1 in 3 people’s lives each year, and we’re so proud to have positively affected that many lives. But we can’t stop there. Now, we have the benefit of sophisticated measurements, historical knowledge and advanced technology.

As we step into the 21st century, we’ve found one answer for our path forward: Leading with impact. How does this affect you, your support and our community? Here are five things you should know:

1. Behind every need is someone’s story.

We spent the past three years doing a deep dive into the needs of real people in our region so we could create a bigger impact. We interviewed and surveyed thousands of people in our 16-county service area and asked them what was holding them back, as well as their hopes and dreams for a better future.

What did this research show? That our region’s needs were as varied as the people living here. This didn’t come as a surprise to us, but it did show that our region needed our expertise and breadth and depth of coverage so nonprofits could survive – a safety net, if you will. Without our steady funding, nonprofits wouldn’t be able to provide the valuable resources and services our community needs.

Supporting a safety net of nonprofits is supporting our neighbor’s need. Imagine a child, eager to go to school and learn, but doesn’t have access to the resources they need – like tutoring, the ability to pay for exam fees, or even transportation to and from school programs. This child (and so many more in our region) need a foundation of services and resources to succeed in life.

Just like this child needs a strong foundation, so do our local nonprofits. United Way is the foundation for so many nonprofits. So we all can go out, and accomplish what we’ve set out to do.

2. United Way’s creating a stronger, healthier and more innovative community.

Armed with data and learnings, we created enhanced investment categories: Safety Net, Systems and Targeted. The idea is to align needs with investments, and investments with the local nonprofits that prove their impact aligns with community needs.

We’re focusing our investments in high-performing organizations with amazing outcomes, a collaborative mindset, and solid racial equity practices. Through these three investment categories, we will support a safety net of services and provide steady funding so nonprofits can continue their work.

We will also focus on investing in innovation. For example, our Targeted investments will fund new and innovative ways of solving specific problems facing our communities, time-tested programs for emergency care, and programmatic support that helps people thrive.

3. Your dollars are working hard.

United Way could not do great work without support from the community. Our amazing, generous 2019 donors’ dollars went to support our network of 160+ current partner nonprofits in our region. These hardworking nonprofits are putting your dollars to use right now and will continue doing so through the end of the year.

Opening our investment categories to all local nonprofits allows United Way to leverage our expertise in understanding nonprofits’ programming, impact, and vision. We are here to ensure your dollars are strategically invested into our community where they’re most needed.

Our generous 2020 donors will be supporting United Way’s next cohort of strong nonprofits and organizations that are aligned with community needs.

4. Community members are at the heart of what we do.

United Way is a volunteer-led organization, and we deeply value the contributions of our many dedicated volunteers. These community members are with us every step of the way to ensure we have many voices speaking into our work.

We are pleased to offer the opportunity for community members to apply for our volunteer committee to help select the next cohort of nonprofits. Volunteers will get a deep dive into the needs of our community and learn more about the local nonprofit ecosystem. We’d love to hear from you!

5. United Way is excited and optimistic about the future. 

Our community has grown and changed over the years, and we’re proud of the progress we’ve made. We’re excited and optimistic about the impact United Way will make in our region’s future. Are you as excited as we are about the future?

James Taylor
James Taylor