22 Jun What’s United Way anyway? 5 things to know.
Five Things You May Not Know About United Way
United Way has been around for a long time. United Way Simcoe Muskoka was founded in 1959, but United Way as an idea was first created in 1887 in Denver, Colorado, by community leaders who realized that working together, rather than on their own, made a lot more sense.
This history and legacy of collective action to help local communities is one of the reasons people trust us to use their donations to address the most important social issues affecting Simcoe Muskoka.
However, sometimes we take for granted that people know what we do, when maybe you don’t. You know the brand. You’re used to seeing the United Way logo. Maybe you’ve had fundraising events at your workplace. But beyond brand recognition, you may have no idea how, with your support, we’re helping the community.
Here are five things you may not know about United Way based on the questions we receive:
1) We are the Largest Non-government Funder of Social Services in our Region
A common question we hear is, “Doesn’t the government fund social services (health care, education, outreach programs,etc.) with my tax dollars? Why do we need United Way?”
Yes, our taxes help cover social services, but government funding isn’t nearly enough to address the needs in our communities. This can lead to a shortage of services in some areas and long waitlists. We work with local governments and other community groups to identify and fill the gaps. We do this by identifying the most important issues and needs, and funding services that address those issues.
2) Donations Stay Local
You’ve probably seen ads from United Way Canada or United Way Greater Toronto. These ads might make you think that when you donate to United Way Simcoe Muskoka, you’re supporting issues outside our area. That’s not true.
When you give to United Way Simcoe Muskoka, your donation is used to build our local Community Fund, which is distributed to programs in Simcoe Muskoka that are tackling the most pressing issues. Read more about how we select local agencies to deliver these vital programs.
Our model is designed so your donation goes to the issues that need funding. We believe local change shouldn’t be left to chance.
3) We Run a Social Enterprise
People are often surprised by this one. A social enterprise is a revenue-generating business or organization that funnels money back to a cause, rather than taking a profit.
At United Way Simcoe Muskoka, we run a call centre with staff who guide low-income residents to grants and other supports to help them with their energy costs. We are contracted to provide the service on behalf of utility companies. This revenue helps us create and maintain new local jobs and offset our operational costs (so more of your donations can go to the cause).
4) United Way was Founded on the Idea That if we Work Together, we can Change our Communities
The “better together” philosophy is what led to the creation of the first United Way, and those that came after. We’re a non-partisan, non-religious, everyone-is-accepted, everyone-deserves-a-chance, we-can-do-this kind of network of United Ways that each work locally.
Our system is set up so we can pool the donations of caring residents like you and redistribute them where they’re needed most. No popularity contests + less waste = more impact.
We simplify giving.
5) Most of our Funding Comes From Workplace Campaigns
Many people are familiar with us because their workplace fundraises for United Way. Employers often choose us for their charitable giving because we provide an easy way to support the overall community. They can give to one organization and we make sure the funding is allocated to well-run local agencies that address the most pressing local issues.
But individuals can give to United Way Simcoe Muskoka outside the workplace as well. Whether online, by phone, mail or in person, local residents donating directly to the Community Fund can have the same type of local impact employees have as part of a workplace campaign.
Either way, there’s no need to research many smaller agencies to figure out where your donation will make the biggest impact in local communities. United Way does that work for you.
6) We’re using #LocalLove to beat local poverty
This is the bonus answer – and the one thousands of your most vulnerable neighbours hope you’ll remember…
Simcoe Muskoka is known far and wide for its beauty and bounty, but for many who live here, poverty is a daily struggle that goes beyond income. It’s at our farmers’ markets and beaches, in our city streets and along our rural routes – and it’s not somebody else’s problem.
We need your help to make local poverty #UNIGNORABLE.