A message from United Way of Dane County President & CEO Renee Moe

Amanda is a single parent with an infant and four-year-old. As they struggled with housing, child care and employment, they found a collaboration with United Way partners The Road Home and The Playing Field. Amanda was able to get her son into before and after school care and her infant into daycare which allowed her to train for a job that now provides a living wage.

National research shows that a 2-generational approach (serving adults like Amanda and her children simultaneously) is the most effective way to address the root causes of poverty. That’s why United Way evolved its partner agency funding strategy to better deliver this 2-generational approach.

The Agenda for Change is nationally recognized as a way for us to further our mission of uniting the community to achieve measurable results and change lives. Facilitating community-built plans that articulate the why, what and how to solve our toughest local issues and supporting those plans with community investments that are, in fact, moving the needle in building family and community well-being.

But our Board, agency partners, donors and local families inspired us and challenged us to achieve more. They asked us what would it take to better coordinate non-profits and community resources to get more done, together?

Three years ago, we made the decision to hold keep funding levels the same instead of asking agencies to reapply for funding as we normally would. This would give us time to listen to the community, understand the research and evolve to an even more effective strategy that would increase economic stability, attack racial disparities and drive community well-being.  

Our partners expressed their appreciation for this decision and welcomed the encouragement to join together in identifying ways to make a greater impact.

During this time, we were also faced with a trend that is happening nationwide in philanthropic giving by companies and individuals. In response to what they heard from their employees, more companies chose to align around a specific interest areas. As a bigger and bigger percentage of our donations were earmarked to specific agencies by companies and employees, it became increasingly difficult to support new priorities (such as 2Gen) while continuing to fund existing programs.

The bottom line is this: If United Way had unlimited resources, we’d welcome the opportunity to fully fund so many agencies that are doing great work across our community. But we simply don’t have that ability. The number of donors is down. The number of companies running campaigns is down. And we need to balance that with focusing the bulk of our support where we see the most effective results. Because of the results we’ve been able to achieve by focusing, we’ve been able to grow major gifts. The united part of United Way is local organizations and individuals coming together to invest in local action. We need your help to grow the resources that move the needle.

United Way is how our community comes together to tackle Dane County’s toughest issues and is the best way to understand the big picture, craft innovative solutions and measurably change lives. That’s the Power of Many, Working for All.