How is your portfolio doing? Managing money is an intricate part of the business community, and each move that you make can be linked to a broader plan for your business. Whether it is doing market research or investing, you remain alert and vigilant to all of the ways in which you can make your business, and your money, work for you. Similarly, the United Way of Pioneer Valley is growing its own portfolio by changing the way it researches, invests, and partners with the community.
This month, the United Way of Pioneer Valley will begin a comprehensive community assessment that asks a diverse range of community members to identify their most critical needs.
The community assessment will generate a clearly defined planning process, and define measurable goals for lasting change in the areas of most critical need. Key local stakeholders, including the business community, will join in collaboration with service providers, associations, community based organizations, and a cross-section of the citizens of our 25 cities and towns to determine a vision for making our neighborhoods better places to live, work, raise families, and grow older.
Once the vision for change is in place, United Way and its stakeholders will then develop a comprehensive business plan that will assist us in determining exactly where the investment of our contributors will go. This process will grow from a compassionate plan to resolve challenges that inhibit self-sustainability, the nurturance of learning and skills building, and, ultimately, the enjoyment of an earned stake in the resources and benefits of life in the Pioneer Valley.
Partnership is a key component of the United Way’s Community Impact agenda, and as an investor and partner, the business community will have a direct role in generating new possibilities for our citizens. We recognize that in adjusting our business practices to meet the needs of both our investors and those who benefit from their generosity, we must be more open to partnering with new, emerging, and established businesses and organizations that can help us creatively and resourcefully invest resources for needed community change.
Through our Community Impact process, relationships with our ‘member agencies’ will flourish into ‘community partnerships’ that allow for more expansive possibilities. This broader relationship with community partners also generates new opportunities to build coalitions with groups that have not traditionally had a role in our work. This is already opening the door to businesses with new ideas to partner in solving problems.
How does Community Impact happen? When we partner with Step up Springfield and AVANZA in Holyoke to teach children academic and character proficiency and prepare them to learn. Also, when we join with the mayor of Springfield, the Chamber of Commerce, and providers of homeless services to end homelessness as we know it, and when we partner with local businesses and schools to identify the root causes of violence among young people and generate plans that can teach mentoring and job skills.
Community Impact is about mobilizing people to create lasting changes in community conditions that change lives. Community Impact just makes sense.
This year, giving to United Way will mean more than it ever has before. We too are sharing your fiscal vigilance in this ever-changing market by ensuring that your donation is more than a gift — it is an investment in our community. With investment in mind, United Way is undergoing a transformation of its business practices.
hrough our new Community Impact agenda, United Way recognizes that our role is greater than simply “collecting and distributing” donations. Our investors expect more from us.
As an investor, you can trust us to use your donation to measurably address the needs of the most vulnerable citizens in our area. So invest today. Invest in our community. And invest in all of us.
James W Horne Jr. is president of United Way of Pioneer Valley.