Written by Arkansas Real Estate
We felt it important that in a blog series centered around economic development and business growth that we also highlighted the impact that businesses are also having through their corporate giving efforts.
Thanks, Julie, for taking time to chat with us!
Tell us about the mission of United Way, and how many organizations are supported through your efforts.
How do I put into a few words what United Way of Northwest Arkansas (UWNWA) is all about? UWNWA’s mission is to build a stronger Northwest Arkansas by identifying needs around education income, and health, then mobilizing resources to effectively meet them – but that summed up mission statement is so hard to capture all that we do. We are an information hub, we are a resource for nonprofit agencies to get everyday essentials, we are a volunteer center – I could really go on and on. I think that gives you an idea though of what UWNWA does. We support over 67 area nonprofits through grant funding in Northwest Arkansas, and over 76 programs that give back in our community.
How many companies are involved in corporate giving? How many individuals?
Over 250 companies, 300 In-House Coordinators and campaign volunteers, and over 15,000 donors participate in United Way's annual campaign. All money given and raised in Northwest Arkansas, stays in Northwest Arkansas and goes back into area nonprofits.
What has United Way seen in terms of growth or decline in giving? How does this affect our community?
Really we have seen giving to UWNWA remain flat. A lot of our donors understand the tough times our economy is facing, and when possible have increased their donations. So that kind of offsets those who are experiencing the pressures of a down economy. Through a survey sent to our partner agencies, we saw that need has gone up in our community, but funding sources have decreased for a lot of agencies. We are currently working with our partner agencies to see how UWNWA can help them better serve our community. We all have to come together and realize that our impact as a group – as a community – will have a much greater affect than if we all try to do our own thing. That is kind of where the whole LIVE UNITED them comes from. We need to LIVE UNITED as Northwest Arkansas. It is more important now, more than ever, to reach out a hand to your neighbor, your friends, your family, even a stranger.
What were of some the major accomplishments in 2011? What are some of your goals for 2012?
I would have to say that a couple of our greatest accomplishments from 2011 were the establishment of the NWA Diaper Bank and the launching our very own Dolly Parton Imagination Library. The Diaper Bank was made possible by a generous donation of one million diapers from Kimberly Clark. It is kind of like our Gifts In Kind Warehouse in the sense that agencies apply to be a part of it, but it only has diapers and baby essentials in it.
The Dolly Parton Imagination Library was made possible by an anonymous gift. The program is designed to promote a love of reading among children. Children who are enrolled in this program will receive one age-appropriate book a month from birth until the age of five. The best thing about this program is it is FREE! The only eligibility requirements are that the child be under one year of age at the time of enrollment and that they live in Benton, Washington, Madison or McDonald County.