What is your United Way doing to raise awareness of the issue you are focused on addressing in your community? United Way of Northwest Arkansas (Lowell, AR) recently held a Poverty Challenge to raise awareness of the issue of families living in poverty in the community and the daily struggle they face. Community leaders were challenged to spend only $5 a day on food (per person in their family), and their experiences with the Poverty Challenge were shared on United Way of Northwest Arkansas’ Facebook, Twitter, and blog. Board members and staff participated in this challenge and posted pictures of the food they purchased and their receipts. They also shared their thoughts about this challenge and pictures of the meals they ate throughout the week.
What are they doing right?
First, this Poverty Challenge raised awareness of the issue United Way of Northwest Arkansas is focused on addressing. United Way of Northwest Arkansas is addressing the issue of child poverty and this Poverty Challenge is just one of the many ways they are informing their community about their issue. They have done a great job explaining the prevalence of their issue in their community on their Web site and on social media.
Second, this is a great way to engage the community, and it gives participants and the community a glimpse of what it would be like to live in poverty. Whether someone participated in the Poverty Challenge or followed someone else’s experience, the community was able to see how their neighbors could be struggling. By understanding what people in their community may be experiencing, community members will be more likely to want to make a difference and contribute to United Way of Northwest Arkansas.
Third, this challenge helped to spread the word about what United Way of Northwest Arkansas is doing in the community. In communities across the country, many people have heard of United Way, but have no idea what their local United Way does. Inviting community leaders to take part in this challenge and posting about their experiences on social media was a great way to inform the community about the issue United Way of Northwest Arkansas is focused on addressing in the community. In addition, the local media provided coverage for the Poverty Challenge, including tweets by KNWA News and an online article.
It is essential to inform and engage your community about the issue you are addressing, just as United Way of Northwest Arkansas is doing. Your community will be more likely to contribute their time and/or money to your United Way if they know what you do, and an issue focus is a great way to simplify your message. Consider engaging your community in something similar to United Way of Northwest Arkansas’ Poverty Challenge to raise awareness of what you do and the importance of the issue you address. If you are not yet issue-focused, we can help guide you in becoming issue-focused, like we did for United Way of Northwest Arkansas. United Way of Northwest Arkansas, you are Doing It Right!
P.S. Check out this blog post from 2013 about United Way of Central Carolinas’ Young Leaders’ Week to Fight Hunger (Charlotte, North Carolina), which is similar to United Way of Northwest Arkansas’ Poverty Challenge.