United Way: Who We Are and How We Work
David Clifford – Chair, Board of Directors
I remember very clearly the United Way campaigns from my childhood. In school we looked for ways to raise money for the campaign. We made donations and talked to our parents about giving. One year they made a film (no video then) in my neighborhood as part of a story about how United Way giving helped individuals in need. United Way, along with my family and church taught me about charitable giving, about caring for other beyond my own family and friends, and my responsibility to help others. The “all for one and one for all” theme or slogan was an important part of learning about how we are all part of one community, and in a community people supported each other. I think my experience as a child really defines the bedrock of values on which United Way is founded and operates. Now, here I am a long-time United Way volunteer and chair of the board of United Way of Washtenaw County, and the values that drive us are the same.
One of the things about United Way that I’m not sure people fully appreciate it is how we operate, how we work to accomplish our goals and make the community better able to meet the needs of people in our six focus areas: early childhood development and education; school aged youth; hunger and food security; housing and homelessness; safety-net health care; and senior assistance. Our fundamental strategy and operating principle is to collaborate – to partner with and work through others – always striving to strengthen the nonprofit organizations that directly serve people, and the communities and neighborhoods where people live. Nationally the United Way of Washtenaw County is a leader in this, through our coordinated funding (working with local governments and the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation) for which our group was awarded the “Nonprofit Deal of the Year” in 2011. And, we support collaboratives of agencies in each of our six priority areas which bring other agencies together to share resources, coordinate efforts, create shared plans and common goals -- to be more efficient, effective and impactful in what they do. United Way, staff, leadership, and board are all active in encouraging, financially supporting and helping to provide leadership for these collaborative initiatives. We are not only helping individuals in need, we are building stronger communities.
I have enjoyed about serving on the United Way board and meeting so many United Way volunteers – board members, committee members, campaign volunteers. What I see is both tremendous individual caring and commitment, and corporate responsibility at its best. Everyone is serious about our stewardship of the dollars that people donate, so we work hard on identifying the people and places most in need, engaging in smart community investment of their dollars, helping to build the capacity of the direct service organizations while also demanding the best from them, and holding them and ourselves accountable for results.
I encourage you to consider joining me in supporting United Way of Washtenaw County. Visit http://uwgive.org to give, get involved and learn more about United Way. United Way of Washtenaw County is located at 2305 Platt Road. You can reach them by phone at (734) 971-8200.