When we ask the community and donors what social issues their local United Way is currently addressing, the top response is always “unsure.” The question is unprompted and they can list as many issues as they would like. Community members name an average of 2.3 issues addressed by their local United Way, while donors name an average of 1.8 issues.
We also ask the community and donors to list words that come to mind when they think of their local United Way. The question is unprompted and they can list as many words as they would like. The number one word that comes up in our research with United Ways is the word “help.”
A lot of our own donors don’t know what we do.
It is important to raise awareness of the issues your United Way addresses in the community. We would suggest choosing no more than three issues to focus on, as most people do not know what issues their local United Way addresses. It is better to be known for one or two issues you address, than to be known for nothing at all.
What is very clear in our research is that donors and community members think of United Way in a positive light. They see United Way as helpful in the community. However, many organizations are helpful in the community. Make an effort to set your United Way apart by being known for addressing a specific issue in your community and communicate that issue to your donors and community members so they are able to recall the issue and connect it to your United Way. Awareness of the issue(s) you address, and the impact you are making in the community, will result in increased contributions to your United Way.