How to Get Your Community in the Giving Spirit

Many United Ways are encouraging their community members to give this holiday season. Some are inviting people to make a contribution to their United Way or partner agencies, while others are organizing drives for toys, gift cards, or clothing. However, most United Ways are just making a general ask – such as “give to support people in the community this holiday season” or “donate to this organization’s toy drive,” without connecting it to a specific issue.

Included below are some examples of United Ways that are communicating about specific issues to encourage their community members to give this holiday season:

United Way of Lake County (Gurnee, IL) and Souris Valley United Way (Minot, ND) are connecting their ask to specific issues by listing specific needs in the community and allowing community members to choose which issue(s) they would like to contribute to this holiday season. Missouri Slope Areawide United Way (Bismarck, ND) and United Way of Miami-Dade (Miami, FL) are also connecting their ask to specific issues, and are giving community members the option of donating in someone’s honor and sending a greeting to the recipient saying what their gift will accomplish in the community.

United Way Silicon Valley (San Jose, CA) is working to ensure early learning success and to strengthen families through their Holiday Giving Program. On their Holiday Giving Program Web page, they explain that they are focused on helping families who are struggling economically and helping young children build their literacy skills. They share their goal of providing every child at six elementary schools in the community with their holiday gift wish and a book to advance their reading skills. They include results from last year’s Holiday Giving Program to show that they are making an impact in children’s and families’ lives in the community. They encourage community members to support their Holiday Giving Program by becoming a sponsor, volunteering, or donating.

Greater Twin Cities United Way’s (Minneapolis, MN) annual giving program, Holiday Wishes, is dedicated to addressing their issue of poverty in the community. Their Holiday Wishes program profiles local families in poverty throughout the season in the newspaper and on their Web site, and highlights those families’ needs and wishes. Greater Twin Cities United Way received a matching grant for up to $45,000 from the U.S. Bank Foundation this year. On their Web site, they provide a link to a story of a man whose life changed because of Holiday Wishes last year and community members can meet the 2014 families who have holiday wishes this year. Community members are encouraged to give and send a greeting to the families in need.

United Way of Lackawanna and Wayne Counties (Scranton, PA) is providing a way for both individuals and companies to give this holiday season through their Gift of Warmth program. They provide statistics about unemployment and poverty in the community and information about how community members can help. They explain that for a donation of $500 (or $5 per card) to the United Way’s Emergency Heating Fund, donors will receive 100 Gift of Warmth cards to insert in their corporate or personal holiday cards. They encourage companies to use their gift-giving budget to send the Gift of Warmth this holiday season when showing appreciation to their clients and vendors, opposed to sending other tokens of appreciation. They explain how donations are used and share results from last year, by sharing individual stories and explaining that 250 families received the Gift of Warmth to overcome potentially life-threatening heating emergencies during the coldest winter months.

These are all great examples of ways to encourage your community members to give to your United Way this holiday season. By connecting your program or drive with a specific issue, and communicating how their gift will make an impact, community members will want to give to your United Way.