AP NEWS

United Way has rethought how it gives its help

January 27, 2019

San Antonio will grow by more than 1 million people in the next 25 years. In addition to unprecedented opportunity, this growth will bring a series of large, complex social challenges. No single agency or organization, public or private, can tackle these issues alone.

Two years ago, United Way embarked on a journey to transform the way we invest the generous gifts donors make to our community. We undertook this journey because we believe that our community is stronger when we unite for a common purpose.

While each of the programs we funded in the past provided significant value to our community, these programs often operated independently from one another. This is known as an isolated impact funding model. We are moving away from this isolated impact model to a collective impact model where our focus will be on funding strategies instead of individual programs, as well as on collaboration with our partners in government and in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors.

Our new community investment strategy has three components: We convene a diverse group of knowledgeable community members who develop winning strategies for tackling our most challenging social problems; we invest in a strong network of human service agencies that implement these strategies, holding these agencies to a high level of performance and accountability; and we use a data-driven, disciplined decision-making process to drive tangible results.

Our community remains at the heart of our investment strategies. Community members, working closely together, determine where we invest, how we invest and which nonprofit programs we support. This fundamental restructuring of our investment methodology will help United Way more fully deliver on our commitment to be a unifying force — in our community and for our community.

Over the past year, community volunteers spent thousands of hours developing strategies that will help our neighbors live better lives. These strategies will integrate funded programs in ways that help our children grow up in safe, stable and nurturing environments and be ready to succeed in school; help our students prepare for the 21st century workforce; and help individuals and families reach their full potential.

As we shift our investments to programs that are aligned with these strategies, we will need to move funds away from programs that are high-performing but not aligned with the work that lies ahead. We will look for ways to continue our partnership with affected agencies so that together we can strengthen the social fabric that binds our community together.

With the memory of the 300th anniversary of our great city still fresh, there is much to celebrate and we have many reasons to be proud. Our future can be as bright as our past, but only if we work together to create the strong, compassionate community we desire.

At United Way, we are committed to doing our part by working every day to forge unlikely partnerships, find new solutions to old problems, mobilize the best resources and inspire individuals to join us in addressing our community’s most daunting social challenges. To live better, we must LIVE UNITED.

Kim Lubel served as United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County 2018 campaign chair, and is a board trustee and former chair of the Partners for Community Change Committee. Jonathan Gurwitz is a board trustee and chair of the Partners for Community Change Committee. The commentary was approved by the board of directors of the United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County.

AP RADIO
Update hourly