One great example of how to communicate and educate donors and the community about your community impact issues comes from Aloha United Way. They have created a series of two-page summaries of their community impact work for each of five different issues. Shown below are the two pages that outline their efforts to address the issue of crime and drug use ( www.auw.org/crime-drug ).
What are they doing right?
First, these summaries are short and to-the-point. They are only two pages in length and have four basic headings: Why are we concerned about this issue?, Our Strategy, The Challenge, and 2010 Results. If people were unaware that crime and drug use was an issue in the Honolulu area, this piece is just short enough that people might stop and read it.
Second, Aloha United Way uses several bullet points and some basic statistics to show why they are focusing on crime and drug use. The information under the “Why are we concerned about this issue?” heading states why they are addressing crime and drug use, without saying that crime and drug use is the most important issue, or that other issues are less important.
Third, the two paragraphs under “Our Strategy” clearly convey what actions Aloha United Way is taking to address the issue of crime and drug use. They are making a case for their very specific and direct approach to the issue. They are not funding every program that addresses crime or drug use in the area; rather they are focusing their funding on supplementing existing programs. This strategy section is short, simple, and easy to understand. Perhaps there will be some donors or community members who do not agree with their approach, but unlike most other United Ways, their strategy is obvious.
Fourth, results are listed. Not a lot of results are listed, but the funding of a coalition is a powerful example of a United Way as a convener, which is often overlooked.
Every United Way would be well-served to review the community impact summaries prepared by Aloha United Way. They are excellent examples of why Aloha United Way is doing what they are doing. Too often we spend too much time and effort talking about what we do and how we do it. Why we do it is more important. Aloha United Way, you are Doing It Right!