Reaching a Community’s Greatest Potential

No matter what role you have in the life of someone important to you, whether it be the title of parent, boss, or friend, the ultimate goal is to see them reach their greatest potential in all aspects of life – a potential they may not even be able to see in themselves.

United Way believes that there are four main building blocks essential to making this happen – education, financial stability, health and basic needs. With that, it’s not about just funding community programs, but creating opportunities and getting to the root of the issue to impact long-term change.

In a recent report commissioned by United Way, Rutgers University found that in the Central Florida area, close to 50 percent of families who are employed are unable to afford basic necessities – food, housing, utilities, childcare and healthcare. They are ALICE – Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed. This is when individuals turn toward United Way to break through, and in 2014, more than 400,000 Central Floridians were impacted by Heart of Florida United Way. One critical component of support for United Way’s mission is through its workplace giving campaigns.

It’s About Collaboration

United Way’s ability to work in concert with business leaders, government, and health and human service programs helps to ensure that the most effective solutions to community problems can be found. Its collaborations tap into different perspectives and expertise to create systemic approaches to areas like education, income, health and basic needs.

Each company participating in a workplace campaign has a United Way advisor assigned to the company representative (employee campaign manager) who helps with the campaign. A plan unique to the company is developed which incorporates community goals, corporate social responsibility objectives and corporate culture. Research indicates employees want to be associated with an employer who is involved in their community. From 75 years of partnering with businesses, United Way has learned best practices that produce outstanding results through employee engagement.  

Best Practices for Campaigns

Ashley Blasewitz, vice president of marketing and communications at Heart of Florida United Way, said, “First, it’s critical to have buy-in from the CEO and senior management team. The most successful campaigns are those with enthusiastic leadership support. Second, it is important to align the campaign to what is important to the company, employees and the culture of the organization.  Whether it’s education, improving financial stability or alleviating hunger and homelessness, the mission sticks if people are passionate about their impact.”

Lastly, Blasewitz encourages companies to have fun by implementing team-building activities. “From employee meetings with recipient testimonials, agency visits, skits, scavenger hunts, cookouts and volunteer projects, every company runs their campaign a little differently, but ‘fun’ is always an ingredient.”

Campaign Impacts

Workplace campaigns are where the majority of Heart of Florida United Way’s revenue is generated – about 70 percent in 2014. It also receives revenue from grants and contracts. The workplace campaign revenue of $18.5 million is leveraged through collaborations to generate additional community revenue.

The workplace campaign provides employers and employees with a platform for individuals to learn about community programs and how to get involved. On many occasions, employees learned about a service or program, such as 2-1-1- Information and referral hotline, United Way’s partnership with Familywize discount prescription card, the Earned Income Tax Credit program or services provided by partner agencies.

Blasewitz commented, “As employers, it’s important to expose staff to all community resources that could make their lives better.  Also, it’s a way to engage individuals interested in assisting through volunteer projects, which generally improve camaraderie and morale – not to mention does good in the community.”

Want to get involved?

Contact your local United Way and visit HFUW.org or UWBrevard.org 

This article appears in the July 2015 issue of SpaceCoast Business.
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