BOLD GOALS. BOLD INVESTMENT.
From Funding Agencies to Fostering Change
In May of 2015 United Way of Lancaster County enhanced its investment process, holding exciting promise for investors, grant recipients and our community. Moving from funding agencies to fostering change.
We zeroed in on four long-term, bold goals.
1. Imagine this! A Lancaster County in 2025 where:
- 100% of our children will enter kindergarten ready to learn
- 100% of students and adults will have post-secondary credentials
- Decrease individuals and families living in poverty by 50%
- 100% of individuals, children and families will have a medical home
These 10-year goals are not United Way’s goals; they are our community’s goals. Franklin & Marshall College’s Center for Opinion Research helped us reach out to residents, nonprofit service providers, United Way investors and community leaders to paint a vision for the future. From Denver to Quarryville, Columbia to Paradise, we listened. From front line service providers, educators, and healthcare professionals to government, faith and business leaders—and, of course, our United Way donors, we learned about the change they wanted to make happen in Lancaster County.
2. We moved from one-year to three-year grant cycles. This assures grant recipients a more stable, longer term financial stream to make bold change happen in their communities. Of course, this is subject to positive performance from our grant recipients each year. Plus, it counts on future Campaigns raising enough money to maintain the investments all three years.
3. We improved our grant review process to ensure that investments being made by donors across our communities are, likewise, being invested throughout Lancaster County. As usual, we had many more requests for funding than we could fulfill, and some previously funded agencies did not receive dollars this year. At the same time, there are many new exciting Community Impact Partners who received funding for the first time.
4. We challenged nonprofit organizations around Lancaster County to focus on the community’s four bold goals and bring together the community partners they need to achieve them. While last year United Way awarded grants to 36 nonprofit organizations, this May we invested over $2.7 million in 17 Community Impact Partnerships supported by 105 different nonprofit organizations, healthcare providers, schools, school districts, educational foundations, faith-based groups, government, and businesses.
United Way of Lancaster County is not the only organization changing how it invests in the community. Nationally a growing number of United Ways, foundations, government programs, and community investors are seeking to maximize their ability to truly impact complex community problems.
Today’s issues are big, and resources are too limited and precious to continue to bandage chronic problems. We must dig deep; we must address their root causes of poor education, poverty, and inadequate access to healthcare. And we must work together to fix them. This will extend the impact of funds beyond what could be achieved through simply funding individual organizations in an uncoordinated fashion.