Start with Great Rivers United Way
Just the other day, we received a question from a community member: “Where should I start?” Such questions are a common occurrence at Great Rivers United Way, but more often than not, the phone calls and emails we get are from people seeking services. This time, the question was about how and where to make a gift in support of a specific cause.
Well, potential donor, you came to the right place! We’re well suited to answer this question. Between frequent communication with our agency partners, our thorough funding process, and our community needs assessment, the Compass Report, Great Rivers United Way has its finger on the pulse of the communities we serve. A staff member was quick to assist, and the conversation went back in forth over the course of several emails.
If there’s a health and human services cause you’re passionate about, we can point you to a handful of local agencies that are making a difference in that one area. We’re happy to provide this service, but we also want to make sure that potential donors understand United Way’s role.
People don’t face issues in isolation. If there’s not already two or more challenges at play – for example, mental health and substance use disorders can both contribute to homelessness – then at the very least, a person is likely facing a domino effect of problems, in which it is increasingly difficult to get ahead.
Compared to others of its size, the La Crosse area has a huge number of nonprofit organizations doing great work. One of the reasons we succeed as a nonprofit community is that we all play a role, and we do it together. Creating and working on collaborations is a large part of Great Rives United Way’s role.
Revisiting the example from above, La Crosse is home to organizations that focus on homelessness, organizations that focus on mental health, and organizations that focus on substance use. A gift to just one works in isolation to address an important need, but a gift to Great Rivers United Way helps them all. That’s why when you ask “Where should I start?” we say “With us!”
If someone is hesitant, the most common reason why is overhead. Every organization has overhead. We simply can’t function without lights, heat, facilities (no matter the size), office supplies, and – most importantly – staff, who play a key role in an organization’s successful infrastructure. Most nonprofits take out overhead from a donation. If the impact is there, the amount of overhead should be a non-issue. Don’t let overhead percentage for United Way or any nonprofit agency be what stops you from giving to help others in your community.
You can give directly to one nonprofit’s mission, and yes, with most nonprofits you will lose varying percentages of that donation for overhead. You can give to fight many community challenges with a gift to Great Rivers United Way. Our overhead is 14%, which is quite small by industry standards, and means $0.86 of every dollar you give goes to help people. That’s a bargain for the work we do in the seven counties we serve, including the ability to contact us, ask questions, and get answers, whether they be about giving help or receiving it.