Community Impact: United We Win
United Way of the Lowcountry
United Way of the Lowcountry (UWLC) continues to evolve. While the organization works to help meet the immediate needs of our neighbors, they are also looking ahead to reduce future needs and create lasting, positive change in our community through Community Impact. As they make the shift to their new model, UWLC is focusing on four priority areas including basic needs, education, health and income/family stability to address the root causes of key issues identified by the community.
Chrystie Turner, Vice President of Community Impact for United Way of the Lowcountry, explains implementing the new Community Impact model has been a decade long process involving researching best practices and garnering community feedback to help create an effective model, tailored to our unique community. “United Way of the Lowcountry felt so strongly about community support that we hired an independent facilitator to conduct a series of open community conversations, said Turner. “After knowing what issues the community wanted us to focus on moving forward, we gathered current partner agencies and other key stake holders to help us create common goals and outcomes for the four priority areas that allow us to measure the impact of our donor’s investment.”
While the Community Impact model is being fully implemented, the review process used in determining funding is a signature process of United Way of the Lowcountry and remains intact through their Community Impact Committee. Funding decisions are made local by this committee, which is comprised of volunteers and community members who donate to UWLC. These volunteers help determine how undesignated United Way Annual Campaign donations will be distributed to local agencies and services throughout Beaufort and Jasper Counties to make a lasting impact. “By moving from a Community Investment model of funding to Community Impact, United Way of the Lowcountry is ensuring donors’ contributions are supporting programs that create lasting change in our community’s condition, while continuing to fund direct services to help those with immediate needs, says Becky Francis, Community Impact Committee Chair. “My involvement over the last few years in this process to change to Community Impact has been the most rewarding job in both my career in business and as a volunteer because I see the difference it is making in our community.”
Who can become a volunteer on the Community Impact Committee?
No experience is needed to serve on the Community Impact Committee. Anyone who donates to United Way of the Lowcountry has the opportunity to serve on the committee and help determine what programs will provide our community with the greatest impact. “We want to ensure that our donors are the ones helping make these important funding decisions,” said Turner.
What is the time commitment to serve on the Community Impact Committee?
The first step is a two-hour training session, where UWLC prepares volunteers on how to review an application and what items are most important when evaluating funding decisions.
Based on availability and interest, volunteers will be assigned to a panel responsible for reviewing funding applications for up to 3 agencies. These panels are filled with volunteers, who want to make a difference in their community. After volunteers have selected a panel to serve on and have been trained, they will then have the opportunity to do site visits at local agencies applying for funding, where they will meet with the agency’s Executive Director and the Board Chair. “I encourage donors who are interested in learning more about the Community Impact process to get involved and become a volunteer, says Francis. “It’s a great way to see your dollars at work.”
Interested in becoming a Community Impact Volunteer?