One of the challenges facing every United Way is how to effectively communicate their community impact. Donors want to know how their contribution is making a difference and all too often United Ways overwhelm donors by trying to explain every last thing United Way does in the community. One United Way that has figured out how to explain their community impact on a single page of their Web site is United Way of Central Maryland (Baltimore, Maryland).
On their Access to Healthy Food Initiative Web page, United Way of Central Maryland includes their goal of increasing access to healthy food, how they are addressing the issue of food insecurity, their results, facts and statistics about food insecurity in central Maryland, and how donors can give and volunteer to address the issue of food insecurity.
What are they doing right?
First, their Web page covers the three things every donor wants to know: what issue United Way is addressing, what actions United Way is taking to address the issue, and what results have been achieved by United Way. It is clear that United Way of Central Maryland is tackling the issue of food insecurity from the headline at the top of the page: “Help change the odds for food insecure families in central Maryland.” The actions they are taking to address the issue of food insecurity are clearly listed, including: sourcing more food locally, improving distribution, supporting after-school meal programs, virtual supermarkets, and access to public benefits. Finally, the results are clear: “Increased access to healthy food in central Maryland by 7.4 million pounds within the first 27 months of the initiative.” Our research with donors has found over and over again that donors want to know the issue, actions, and results, and United Way of Central Maryland includes all three.
Second, there is a clear call to action on the Web page. United Way of Central Maryland makes it easy for people to donate or volunteer to reach the goal by putting large, red “Donate” and “Volunteer” buttons on the right side and bottom of the page. There are opportunities for people to donate, volunteer as a Harvest Helper with United Way of Central Maryland’s Families Living United Group, or volunteer at one of the partner agencies. United Way of Central Maryland connects donors directly to the issue by inviting them to donate or volunteer.
Third, many people may not know how significant a challenge the issue of food insecurity is in central Maryland. The facts found on the lower, right part of the Web page describe how many people in central Maryland don’t have adequate food and access to healthy food, and the percentage of farmers’ markets that accept food stamps. If that isn’t enough information and you want to know more about food insecurity, there is a link titled “Get the full list,” which opens a two-page PDF document entitled “Health Programs: Access to Healthy Food Initiative.” United Way of Central Maryland is providing potential donors and volunteers with the basic facts about food insecurity on the Web site, with more detailed information just a click away.
Communicating community impact does not need to be long and complicated. A simple, one-page Web page like this one from United Way of Central Maryland is more than adequate to inform donors. By providing basic information about food insecurity and offering people opportunities to learn more and get involved, United Way of Central Maryland demonstrates an effective way for communicating community impact. The next time you are looking to update the community impact pages on your Web site, take a look at how United Way of Central Maryland has communicated their community impact addressing the issue of food insecurity. United Way of Central Maryland, you are Doing It Right!