This Insights was contributed by Tommy Taylor, executive vice president of the United Way of the Cape Fear Area.
"The best philanthropy is constantly in search of the finalities – a search for a cause, an attempt to cure evils at their source." - John Rockefeller
Facing human suffering on a daily basis weighs heavily on the human-service worker, but we find great rewards creating solutions and changing conditions. Consistent trends of resource reduction and need growth are challenging the human service sector more and more each year. It is not enough to provide relief. We must find sustainable solutions.
For 75 years, the United Way of the Cape Fear Area has worked to meet the greatest needs of local residents. However, in 2005 our strategy and tactics to combat poverty and suffering shifted from primarily relief to an impact model focused on sustainable solutions. Today, your local United Way changes more than 130,000 lives each year using the Community Impact model.
What is Community Impact? I am community impact. You are community impact. Collectively we are community impact. Only by working together and combining our philanthropic efforts can we reverse the overwhelming trends facing our community. If together we use proven methods and focus on solutions to the root causes of generational poverty, symptoms such as violence, poor health and an unprepared work forces will dissipate.
United Way of the Cape Fear Area facilitates collective impact. UWCFA is uniquely positioned to assess the picture from outside the frame and make neutral decisions based on data and evidence. Solutions are not found in any one entity; their parts exist through the efforts of many different organizations including for-profit, government, nonprofit and faith-based organizations. UWCFA works tirelessly to assemble these parts, eliminate wasteful duplication and nurture the solutions to fruition.
Every year, the Community Impact fund awards grants to partners who contribute to community solutions. The targets are clear, the results are tracked and lives change. Outside of grants, UWCFA also addresses gaps in service by launching innovative initiatives such as the Cape Fear HealthNet, the 10 Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness, the Blue Ribbon Commission to End Youth Violence, and most recently Hometown Hires. Each of these initiatives solves specific issues in our community and all of them are multisector and collaborative involving any agency that can help play a meaningful role.
Solutions require us to step outside of our everyday experiences and look objectively at our community. They have to be locally driven and customized to our region. We must embrace change and respect the past, yet refuse to be bound by it. Any difficult problem requires innovation to solve. The innovation our region needs required the Community Impact shift. Join the movement, embrace the change and help us impact more lives today.
United Way of the Cape Fear Area mobilizes resources to empower local people working toward leading self-sufficient, healthy lives.
Please visit www.uwcfa.org or call (910) 798-3900 and speak with any staff member for more information about YOUR United Way. Get involved. Be an advocate. You are Community Impact.
Christopher L. Nelson is president of the United Way of the Cape Fear Area, a local nonprofit organization. Since 1941, the United Way of the Cape Fear Area has worked alongside local agencies in Brunswick, Columbus, New Hanover and Pender counties to assist them in providing substantial and sustainable change within the Cape Fear area. To learn more about the United Way of the Cape Fear Region, go to https://uwcfa.org/ or call (910) 798-3900.
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