Does Your United Way Have a Student United Way?

Is your United Way engaging young people? Do you have a Student United Way? If you do have a Student United Way, are you effectively communicating with students to invite them to get involved?

According to United Way Worldwide’s Web site, Student United Way is “a movement of passionate student leaders committed to improving lives and strengthening communities.” United Way Worldwide’s statistics show that there are 1,500+ members and 80 clubs around the world in five countries and 23 states.

While there a lot of Student United Ways, I was interested in finding examples of Student United Ways who are doing a great job of communicating to attract and interest young people. I visited numerous Student United Way Web pages and wanted to share with you some examples I found.

Student United Way at Anderson University (United Way of Madison County – Anderson, Indiana) informs students that they can serve their neighbors in meaningful ways. They provide examples of how students can help in the community and provide a link to a Web site with current statistics in their county. They also invite students to get involved by filling out their interest form or “liking” them on Facebook.

Their interest form is simple to fill out and asks students to indicate what issues matter most to them. Students are also asked if they would like to receive United Way of Madison County’s e-newsletter, which is a great way for United Way of Madison County to engage these young people. I also noticed that their meetings are held in the United Way of Madison County office, which is another great way for these young people to connect with United Way.

UWRV Student United Way (United Way of Roanoke Valley – Roanoke, Virginia) is comprised of 25 high school youth representing 10 schools in their community. These students are involved in Student United Way for two years before they “graduate” from completing two years of Living United.

On their Facebook page, they invite students to volunteer for fun events like BaconFest (a festival about bacon and a fundraiser for United Way), where volunteering will get them free admission and free taste tickets. They also invite students to volunteer for their campaign kickoff, and attend and bring their family to the event for dinner, music, and games. They make it fun for the students to get involved and volunteer.

Student United Way at ASU (Valley of the Sun United Way – Phoenix, Arizona) communicates about Valley of the Sun United Way’s specific issues that members of Student United Way are also helping to address in the community, as well as the fun activities, leadership development, and nonprofit experience students will gain from being a part of Student United Way. On their Web page, they invite students to follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and they have a simple, sign-up form similar to Student United Way at Anderson University’s form, which asks students to indicate which issue they are most interested in.

On their Facebook page, they explain that they work to end hunger and homelessness and help kids succeed in Tempe, and they are engaging people about these issues in creative ways, such as their posts about helping to make hunger disappear.

Salisbury University’s Student United Way (United Way of Lower Eastern Shore – Salisbury, Maryland) is fairly new and they are already communicating great things. They include information on their goals for this year and results they achieved last year, including information and pictures about specific volunteer projects, like storytelling at the Salisbury Zoo and building a wheelchair ramp for a local senior. (Check out last week’s blog post, which highlighted this Student United Way’s volunteering efforts and Halloween 5K Dash.)

I selected all of the examples above for one or more of the following reasons:

  • They were focused on addressing specific issues
  • They made it easy to get involved
  • They communicated goals and results
  • They offered fun volunteering opportunities

It’s important to connect your Student United Way with issues because young people want to make a difference on specific issues in the community. It’s also important to make sure your Web pages are easy to navigate and your sign-up forms are simple to fill out, so it is easy for young people to get involved. When you are communicating, remember to include your Student United Way’s goals and results, so young people know they will make an impact by joining. Finally, make it fun for young people to be a part of your Student United Way. Offer fun volunteering opportunities and events, so they want to invite their friends and continue being a part of your Student United Way.

If your United Way doesn’t have a Student United Way, consider starting one to engage young people with your United Way. The main purpose of creating a Student United Way should be to engage young people through volunteering opportunities at your United Way, so that you make connections with them. Offering a Student United Way is a great way for young people to learn about United Way, while volunteering to help make a difference in the community.

If you already have a Student United Way, consider using these examples as a guide for how to effectively communicate to attract and interest young people. Keep it fun and simple for students to get involved and share with them the issue(s) your Student United Way is focused on addressing, as well as goals and results.