Doing It Right! United Way of Larimer County (Fort Collins, CO)
United Ways implement community impact in a variety of different ways, and this implementation is not always easily understood or clearly communicated. United Way of Larimer County took on the issue of poverty in 2011, when they established their bold goal to cut poverty in half in Larimer County by 2025. Their goal is easily understood and they also prepared a Community Impact Plan to explain how they would achieve their bold goal. Recently, United Way of Larimer County released their Community Impact Plan Version 2.0, which explains their community impact even more clearly.
United Way of Larimer County’s Community Impact Plan Version 2.0 includes an explanation of poverty and how it affects residents, the community-level outcomes in the areas of education, income, and health to address poverty, and the opportunities to give, advocate, and volunteer to address poverty in Larimer County.
What are they doing right?
First, the plan includes several pages explaining poverty. Although everyone has heard of poverty, concepts like situational poverty and generational poverty may be new to a lot of people. United Way of Larimer County goes into detail about how poverty is measured and how significant poverty is in Larimer County. The plan includes a discussion about the challenges of measuring poverty and alternative measures such as the self-sufficiency standard. They even explain exactly how they will measure progress toward their bold goal to cut poverty in half in Larimer County by 2025. Poverty is a complex issue and United Way of Larimer County explains it in an easy-to-understand manner.
Second, the plan talks about how United Way of Larimer County will lead the way from poverty to prosperity. They make it clear that addressing poverty will be a collaborative effort involving everyone in the community, including nonprofits, community leaders, businesses, and other organizations. For their own work, United Way of Larimer County has adopted an approach based on taking action in the areas of education, income, and health, all with the goal of reduced poverty in Larimer County. There is a summary of the three areas with specific community-level outcomes listed for each area. The plan includes two pages for each of the areas, which explain the community-level outcomes in more detail.
Third, the plan provides many opportunities for people to help. In each of the three areas, there is a “How Can You Help?” section that allows people to give, advocate, or volunteer to address poverty. For example, in the education area, people can give by supporting United Way of Larimer County’s Education Impact Fund. People are invited to advocate by lending their voice to BeReady, a community-wide public awareness campaign for school readiness. Finally, people can volunteer as a reader, tutor, or mentor to make an immediate impact on the lives of children in need. Each of the three areas has similar opportunities to give, advocate, and volunteer.
United Way of Larimer County’s Community Impact Plan is a great example of how to explain community impact. There is a lot of information and detail in their plan, and it is not likely to be read by every donor, but it provides in-depth information for those who want to dig deeper. The next time someone asks you what community impact means at your United Way, think about the possibility of preparing a community impact plan like the one developed by United Way of Larimer County. United Way of Larimer County, you are Doing It Right!