Getting donors and the community to understand what your United Way does can be challenging, but it is also essential for continued donor support. Most United Ways address multiple issues, with dozens of partner agencies, and even more programs. Simplifying the message is the first step, and that starts with a goal like the one used by United Way of Erie County(Erie, PA): Reduce the number of families struggling to meet their basic needs by one-third before 2025. United Way of Erie County then communicates that message to donors and the community with their Community Impact Strategy brochure (http://www.unitedwayerie.org/2025)
What are they doing right?
First, United Way of Erie County has focused their efforts on addressing the issue of poverty. This starts on the top left corner of their brochure where you will see “Reducing Poverty in Erie County” and continues throughout the brochure. The brochure includes the statistics 15,142 children in Erie County live in poverty and approximately 30,000 families in Erie County live at levels below self-sufficiency, which drive home how significant the need is in Erie County.
Second, United Way of Erie County is addressing poverty through education, income, and health. You will note the headline from page four of the brochure “Reducing Poverty by Investing in Education.” United Way of Erie County has recognized that poverty is an issue that people can identify with, and want to solve in their community. Investing in education is the action United Way of Erie County is taking to address poverty. People may not remember all of the educational goals and outcomes listed on pages four and five, but they will remember that United Way of Erie County is addressing the issue of poverty through education.
Third, United Way of Erie County takes the lead in addressing poverty in Erie County, but they do so with the help and assistance of other organizations. The brochure includes a page that describes how United Way of Erie County is working with a region-wide initiative to reduce poverty, as well as establishing 2-1-1 for the region. These efforts show that United Way of Erie County is not only funding programs to address poverty, but they are also collaborating with other organizations, and providing programs themselves to best meet the needs of the community.
This brochure clearly outlines the issue of poverty in Erie County, and how United Way of Erie County will address the issue. Both donors and the community will have a deeper understanding of United Way of Erie County and the work they do, as well as opportunities to join them to address poverty in Erie County. If your United Way is embarking on a focused community impact initiative, consider how you might use a brochure similar to United Way of Erie County to communicate your work. United Way of Erie County, you are Doing It Right!