When I mention to someone that I work for United Way, those are the two most common questions I get, in response. I’ve had these questions so many times that my answer seems to come out of my mouth without even thinking about what I am saying. Unfortunately when this happens, I tend to spout off what we like to call our “elevator speech.” (A quick speech I could give to someone in the time it takes to ride an elevator)
Thinking back on this question, I decided to put together a blog post which would delve a little bit more in depth on what it is that we do for the community outside of “just fundraising. “ And maybe the next time I’m asked these two questions, my answer can provide a better insight into United Way.
2-1-1 is a free telephone number that almost everyone in the state can dial, explain their problem, and be given contact information to an agency or a program that can help the caller solve their problem. Whether the issue is paying your electric bill, looking for counseling services, or researching reliable childcare, 2-1-1 operators have access to thousands of agencies and programs, and are trained to direct the caller to the most appropriate one.
Volunteer Solutions is a web portal that UWGT operates which allows other non-profits to post their volunteer opportunities online. And in return, volunteers can register and search for volunteer opportunities as well according to their particular volunteer interests.
Teaming for Technology is a program that takes older computers, refurbishes them to like new condition, and puts them back into the community at non-profits, schools, and low-income families. The goal for this program is to bridge the gap between those with technology and those without, since a basic understanding of a personal computer, the internet, and email is almost a requirement now for many students and jobseekers.
Finally, we do fundraise. We raise money through workplace campaigns and through individual donations. We fundraise year round, but have a heightened season from September to November each year called the Campaign season. The money we raise is then allocated to over 150 programs at our 88 partner agencies. Community volunteers from the Triangle makeup investment cabinets that help to decide which programs get what dollars. They base their allocations on specific factors for each community. United Way does not allocate the funds. The people on these cabinets are active in our community and have a vested interest in making sure the funds are distributed to do the most good for the most amount of people. Any program receiving United Way funds is held accountable to quantifiable results and measurements, as well as a list of standards for each program. This is why when you give to United Way, you know your dollar is making an actual difference.
So, maybe now, people will know a little more about us when I’m asked, “What does United Way actually do?”
See my sequel to this post where I’ll go into further details. Coming soon!