Unlocking the key to our region’s future through impact
United Way has proudly served the Missouri and Illinois region since 1922. We started as a volunteer-led organization raising money to help operate 40 nonprofits with one goal in mind: to help people live their best possible lives.
In 1922, 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.
Now, we have advancing technology. Technology that enables us to connect with each other instantly – allowing for easier collaboration and larger reach. Technology with innovative tools that allow for stronger data analysis and research.
These three investment streams will allow United Way (and your dollars) to continue leading with impact.
Creating a regional foundation
To some, a safety net is defined as a safeguard against possible hardship or adversity. To us, a safety net is creating a strong foundation so our neighbors can stand on steady ground and lift themselves up during hard times. This foundation is built through investing in nonprofits that are meeting the needs of our community, closely looking at the ones identified in our Community Needs Assessment.
But this foundation can’t be built alone. It takes collaboration, corporate support, individuals and community members believing in a vision for a stronger community. It takes a strong network of local nonprofits working to find solutions to issues our neighbors face.
As part of the ecosystem of community support, United Way helps provides kids with care and enrichment before and after school, ensures families don’t go hungry and gives people living with disabilities the tools and resources to thrive – all by supporting a safety net of local nonprofits.
We know there are many ways nonprofits find solutions to an issue. For instance, two nonprofits working to keep kids safe after school may have vastly different programs – one, a sports club, the other, a homework app. When we look at where to invest, we are particularly interested in the outcomes the nonprofit strives to achieve, how well the organization collaborates and partners, and whether or not the organization engages in racial equity practices. Looking at these qualifications will allow us to invest in high-performing organizations that make the greatest impact in our community.
Moving forward with systems
Building a safety net is not the only ingredient to a successful community. We also need to look at the systems in place that help our community move forward or the ones that hold us back.
Through our Systems investments, we will support organizations providing backbone support, collaborations, and advocacy services. These organizations look at problems from a holistic point of view and aim to create conditions for people to live successful lives. By understanding the prevalent needs of our region, we’re able to track where systems work may have the most impact and invest in those areas.
Collaborating with targeted programs
At times, there may not be a focus on a particular need identified in the Community Needs Assessment. In this case, United Way may choose to host a collaborative table to ensure that need becomes a focus in the area. Communities grow and change and investing in creative and collaborative solutions can ensure we’re contributing to a stronger region at the forefront of innovative solutions.
Through our Targeted investments, we will seek new and innovative ways of solving specific problems facing our communities and aligning investments with changing times and emerging needs.
An aligned future
United Way envisions a path of aligning needs with funding and funding with outcomes, in a way that ensures our residents receive the help they need.
Ultimately, we strive to achieve the impact and outcomes that are as effective, efficient, and equitable as our community deserves in today’s world.
And we can’t do it alone. It will take partnerships with the most effective nonprofit organizations in our region. It will take leveraging data of community needs through our Community Needs Assessment. It will take innovation and courage. Luckily, we have the benefit of each other – a community ready to be its best.