Doing It Right! United Way of the Columbia-Willamette (Portland, OR)

Are you clearly communicating to donors what your United Way is accomplishing in the community? Nearly every United Way is challenged to explain to donors why they should support United Way in a simple and easily understood way. One United Way that has figured out how to get the message across to donors is United Way of the Columbia-Willamette (Portland, Oregon). They have a PDF on their Web site dedicated to explaining their work to address the issue of childhood poverty.

On the front of the page are two sections titled “Here’s the problem,” and “Here’s what we’re going to do about it.” On the back of the page is a section titled “Here’s how you can move with us!”

What are they doing right?

First, it is not only clear that the issue being addressed by United Way of the Columbia-Willamette is childhood poverty, but also why they are addressing that issue. The statistic of “2 in 5 kids in our region live in low-income families” (along with the map) informs the reader about how significant the issue of childhood poverty is in the region. One issue is easy for donors to understand, instead of trying to communicate a variety of issues in several different categories.

Second, United Way of the Columbia-Willamette outlines the actions they are going to take to address the issue of childhood poverty. Donors not only want to know what issue your United Way is addressing, but also what you are doing to change the issue. Their explanation of what they are doing is straightforward and to the point, such as increasing high school graduation rates and increasing household income.

Third, donors want to know the results of their contributions. On the back of the page, results of programs, like the Latino Network, CASH Oregon, and Hands on Greater Portland, are listed. The top of the page notes these are “a sampling of ways our donors have helped UWCW break the cycle of childhood poverty,” which explains that there are other results as well. Instead of providing a list of all the funded partner agencies and programs, United Way of the Columbia-Willamette simplifies their message by listing results from three programs as examples.

For years, we have advised United Ways to clearly communicate the issue they are addressing, the actions they are taking to address the issue, and the results of their actions. United Way of the Columbia-Willamette has created a simple and effective way to communicate their issue, actions, and results. The next time you are faced with the challenge of communicating what your United Way is accomplishing, consider the one-page example from United Way of the Columbia-Willamette. United Way of the Columbia-Willamette, you are Doing It Right!

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