Funding Equitably: United Way’s Journey to Making a Difference

Nonprofit organizations like United Way work hard to share resources fairly, but it’s not always easy. How can we make sure that money and help reach everyone who needs it? One important way is by listening to people who know a lot about the challenges communities face – people who have been there themselves or who work to help others every day. Groups like United Way are learning how to use these insights to make better funding decisions about where to give help. 

Listening to People Who Understand

For more than a hundred years, United Way of Greater Toledo has worked with many groups to make life better for everyone. We’re proud of what we’ve achieved, but we know there’s still work to do.  

Under the leadership of CEO, Wendy Pestrue, we studied the needs of our community closely. We found that things were changing, and if we wanted to help all adults, children and families thrive, we needed to change too. We asked the people who know our community best – the people who live here – to help us make good decisions about who to help. 

Experts Who Know What They’re Talking About  

United Way and other community organizations are here to make our communities stronger. But to do it right, we need to work with people who know what they’re talking about. That means talking to the experts – people who live and breathe the challenges every day. Together, we can make sure everyone gets the support they need. 

The Significance of Personal and Professional Expertise in Funding Decisions 

  • Holistic Insight: When people know a lot about helping others and how communities work, they understand what everyone needs. They use both their own experiences and what they’ve learned to figure out what’s best for our community. 
  • Tailored Solutions: People who help others think about what makes each community different. They use their own stories and what they know to come up with special plans that fit each community’s needs. 
  • Cultural Competence: People who help others understand all different kinds of people. They know how to be respectful and kind to everyone in their community, no matter where they’re from or what they believe. 
  • Empowerment Through Representation: When we listen to people who know a lot about helping others, it makes them feel important. It helps them speak up for what they think is right and make sure everyone’s voice is heard. 

What Can I Do? 

  • Engage: Connect with organizations that serve the community and lend your expertise and/or lived experiences to help them equitably serve people. 
  • Advocate: Share this blog post with others and advocate for the inclusion of lived experience and social services expertise in all levels of decision making. 
  • Educate: Take the time to educate yourself and others about the diverse needs of communities and the importance of culturally competent solutions. Attend workshops, webinars, or community events focused on equity and inclusion. 
  • Support: Consider donating to organizations like United Way, who prioritize equitable funding practices and community engagement.  

Incorporating the perspectives of individuals with personal and professional expertise in social services isn’t merely a token gesture – it’s a pivotal step toward fostering equitable and impactful nonprofit organizations. By embracing these voices, nonprofits like United Way can ensure that their work resonates authentically with the communities they serve. 

Together, we can make our communities better for everyone. 

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