Doing It Right! United Way of Central Maryland (Baltimore, Maryland)

One of the challenges facing every United Way is how to effectively communicate their community impact. Donors want to know how their contribution is making a difference and all too often United Ways overwhelm donors by trying to explain every last thing United Way does in the community. One United Way that has figured out how to explain their community impact in a simple, one-page progress report is United Way of Central Maryland (Baltimore, Maryland).

On their Health Programs: Access to Healthy Food Initiative progress report, United Way of Central Maryland includes their goal of increasing access to healthy food by at least 1.5 million pounds each year, how they are addressing the issue of food insecurity, their progress to date, facts and statistics about food insecurity in central Maryland, and a story about someone facing food insecurity.

What are they doing right?

First, their progress report covers the three things every donor wants to know: what issue United Way is addressing, what actions United Way is taking to address the issue, and what results have been achieved by United Way. Our research with donors has found over and over again that donors want to know the issue, actions, and results, and United Way of Central Maryland includes all three. It is clear that United Way of Central Maryland is tackling the issue of food insecurity from the headline at the top of the page: “Changing the odds for food insecure families.” They share their definition of food insecurity as “the lack of available nutritious and safe food. They also share how food insecurity affects the ability to learn, slows cognitive development and increases susceptibility to illness.

Second, the actions they are taking to address the issue of food insecurity are clearly listed, including: grow more food, improve distribution, and increase access and affordability. Each of these three actions are described in detail on the back of the report and United Way of Central Maryland explains what they are doing in each area. United Way of Central Maryland also makes it clear that their efforts are a collaboration with a variety of community organizations, both funded and unfunded.

Third, the results are clear: “Increased access to healthy food in central Maryland by 8.3 million pounds/6.9 million meals within the first 39 months of the initiative.” In addition to pounds of food and meals, they also include information about food drives and Thanksgiving meals. Finally, there is a story about Shauna’s family and how she can now feed her three children nutritious foods as a result of United Way of Central Maryland’s Access to Healthy Food Initiative.

Communicating community impact does not need to be long and complicated. A simple progress report like this one from United Way of Central Maryland is more than adequate to inform donors. By providing basic information about food insecurity and the results of donors’ contributions, United Way of Central Maryland demonstrates an effective way for communicating community impact. The next time you are looking to prepare a progress report on your community impact, take a look at how United Way of Central Maryland has communicated their community impact addressing the issue of food insecurity. United Way of Central Maryland, you are Doing It Right!