At the recent Center for Nonprofit Excellence National Philanthropy Day luncheon, the keynote speaker, Dr. Paul C. Light, gave a talk entitled “Driving Social Change in a Time of Urgent Threats.” He emphasized the need for nonprofits to collaborate.
Those of us from the United Way were nodding our heads in agreement. "Collaborate” could be our middle name. We have collaborated with our local school systems for years to create awareness of our project to sign up all eligible area children for free FAMIS health insurance.
Our Child Care Scholarship Program collaborates with the social service departments of the City of Charlottesville and Albemarle County.
In the spring, we collaborate with the local letter carrier’s union and the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank to promote the “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive. Because of our strong media partnerships, in 2008 the number of pounds of food collected nearly doubled, and this year we increased collections by thousands of pounds again. Our Volunteer Center made the connection with the Civil Air Patrol which has adopted the food drive as an annual volunteer activity.
We have applied for and received grants on behalf of two local coalitions, enabling us to hire new staff members to coordinate the work of coalition members so that considerable strides have been made for both groups: the Smart Beginnings initiative and the Thomas Jefferson Area EITC Coalition.
The Initiative for Effective Nonprofits is a collaboration of the Wardle Family Foundation and the United Way, working together to provide capacity building grants to local nonprofits so that they can strengthen their business practices.
Our Prescription Assistance program provides a Medication Assistance Worker who works at the Charlottesville Free Clinic and Region Ten Community Services Board every day, signing up individuals without health insurance for free prescriptions from more than 200 pharmaceutical companies.
About to kick off for this year is The Santa Fund, a collaboration between The Daily Progress, NewsRadio1070 WINA and the United Way. We collect and distribute the funds by working with the school systems in several counties to identify kids with everyday needs like a pair of winter boots, eyeglasses, school supplies and so on.
Women United In Philanthropy was formed in 2004 by the United Way as a way of informing and empowering women to address the needs in our community. Since then, it has taken off, and has awarded nearly $120,000 in grants to local organizations. As a matter of fact, the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation based its Future Fund giving circle on the Women United in Philanthropy's model.
Of course, the Big Kahuna of collaborations is the United Way Laurence E. Richardson Day of Caring, coordinating 2,500 volunteers from 70+ businesses and organizations with more than 100 nonprofits and schools.
Those are just the formal collaborations we have here at the United Way-Thomas Jefferson Area. We have dozens of other everyday collaborations with local nonprofits, businesses and media outlets. It is because of these partnerships, big and small, that we are able to leverage our staff, volunteers and donations to have the biggest impact possible in order to change people’s lives for the better.