In this season of giving, there is no shortage of organizations playing critical roles in addressing the region’s numerous causes that are deserving of charitable support. With the ongoing effects of the pandemic still straining resources to meet heightened need, a donation to any of them will be a welcomed and appreciated boost.
For those looking to help out, we offer a reminder that there is a particularly effective means for maximizing the regional impact of a donation — the Monadnock United Way’s annual campaign, which is currently underway. Much has changed since the first such campaign nearly 70 years ago. For most of that time, the campaign was an effective, one-stop means for channeling charitable support to the region’s nonprofit organizations, and donors took comfort that their dollars were supporting organizations vetted by the United Way.
Those advantages of annual campaign support remain. But the United Way in recent years has taken on a much greater role by not just providing critical fundraising capability to the various organizations but also in assuring that they are working collaboratively to tackle the region’s especially critical needs more effectively.
The evolving approach — a collective-impact model — grew out of concerning statewide data about the region’s needs. Especially troubling were findings that in New Hampshire this region had the third highest rate of child abuse and neglect, children here scored lower in English and math, and the area had a well-above-average percentage of low-income residents.
In response, the United Way has sharpened focus on key initiatives and proactively brought together agencies to identify and address gaps in support and to promote greater efficiency in the use of funds throughout the region. The particular areas of focus are the needs of children, early education, financial stability and basic needs. Thus, the United Way has formed collaborative collectives bringing together key players to address emergency housing and shelter, food insecurity, afterschool, early childhood development and family needs.
The approach is proving effective and successful, as redundancy of services is being eliminated while raising the level of collaboration among the many social services agencies to tackle root causes more effectively. One illustration: The Monadnock Food Pantries Collective has brought together seven local pantries across the region, including Keene’s Community Kitchen, to share funds, resources and buying power. Another is the Monadnock Region Afterschool Collective, which coordinates the efforts of seven after-school programs in 13 regional locations to give children quality after-school programming in safe environments.
In short, the collective-impact model adopted by the United Way pulls together varied organizations and shared expertise to attack the underlying causes of the principal issues facing children, poverty, homelessness and learning challenges in ways that any of them might be unable to do alone. It is indeed a case of the collective-impact whole being greater than the sum of its parts.
It’s no secret the United Way can no longer set annual campaign targets at the level it once did when many more large employers were headquartered here and it could set goals over $2 million. Its aim for the current campaign is a more realistic $1.46 million that, combined with grants and other funding its collective-impact model has enabled the agency to tap into, offer the prospect of meaningfully addressing existing needs of the region the pandemic has only worsened. Whether through ongoing campaigns being conducted at the workplace or through individual contributions, those considering the region’s needs and wondering how they might help will find each dollar given to support the United Way’s annual campaign will have a multiplying impact and provide a region-wide bang for the buck that can’t be beat.
To learn more about how the United Way distributes its funds and the impact its collective model is having, visit its website at www.muw.org. To contribute, either contact your employer about doing so through payroll deduction or visit that website to make a direct donation.