Friday, 18 May 2018 05:06

New released report shows impact of United Way on SW Sask.

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The Swift Current United Way has produced a report to show the impact of a donation to the organization on communities in southwest Saskatchewan.


The community impact report provides details about the funding provided by Swift Current United Way to nine community partners during the period January to December 2017.
Swift Current United Way Executive Director Stacey Schwartz said it was the first time that such a report was prepared. In previous years the recipients of United Way funding were asked to provide feedback on program spending, but the community impact report takes this process a step further.
“The way we did it was definitely very different in looking for specific numbers from our funded partners for each program that United Way has allocated funding to, whereas before we didn't necessarily ask for those specific details,” she explained.
The new report is a means to have more transparency and accountability towards donors and to give more exposure to the work done by the United Way's community partners.
“I think sometimes people don't realize the impact or the depth and the reach that these programs have,” she said. “So we just found this was a way to communicate clearly the impact that each of these programs have had.”
For Schwartz, a significant result from the report is the extent to which communities across southwest Saskatchewan have benefitted from the work of the nine community partners during 2017.
“There is a number of small communities in our area around southwest Saskatchewan that benefit from these non-profits,” she said. “They've got stuff that are going out to these communities and providing impact to individuals, not just in the Swift Current area, but many of the small rural communities as well. So that was a big one. I knew there would be some, but I didn't realize there was that many, the reach. So that's great to see that people are accessing that.”
According to the report the Swift Current United Way disbursed a total of $71,650 to the nine community partners in 2017. The recipients were the Canadian Mental Health Association ($15,000 for meal program), Canadian National Institute for the Blind ($3,000 for post vision loss rehabilitation therapy), Canadian Red Cross ($1,000 to build capacity and train local volunteers), SaskAbilities ($10,000 for community inclusion program), Southwest Crisis Services ($10,000 for community outreach program), Southwest Homes ($10,000 for transportation and special programming supports), Southwest Newcomer Welcome Centre ($6,000 for ESL childminding program and family literacy program), Swift Current Community Youth Initiative ($5,000 for after school meal program), and United Way Active Play ($11,650 for after school program).
United Way funding is specifically provided to program activities that will have a direct impact on individuals and communities. The report shows that funding allocations to three programs covered 100 per cent of the cost to operate those programs, but in most cases the organizations also had to find additional funds to operate the programs.
“We felt it was really important to explain to people and to make them understand that for some of these organizations we're not funding the full program,” she said. “So they still obviously are having to go out and fundraise to top up the remaining amount just to operate that program, but then also to show the programs that we are able to invest in and help them operate. We want to make sure there's clear communication for how much United Way is impacting that program, but then also making the community aware that there still is some room for them to receive support in other areas as well.”
The funding provided by United Way directly benefitted 1,327 individuals. The majority of beneficiaries (47 per cent) were adults between the ages of 25 and 80, and 18 per cent were youth and young adults ages 13 to 24. Twenty-nine per cent of beneficiaries were children between the ages of six and 12 years, while six per cent were infants and children younger than six years.
Schwartz noted that the indirect impact of the United Way funding will be wider than just the 1,327 individuals.
“When looking at the specific numbers, I think it's sometimes easy to get caught up on the number that you see directly in front of you,” she said. “The reach would go far beyond even what we can really properly measure and I think that's something to keep in mind. We actually don't always know the full extent of the impact, but just knowing that even if we don't directly see or know this specific people benefitting, that there are individuals that are accessing and being impacted by the work being done.”
She felt the report is a useful measure of Swift Current United Way's success to achieve funding goals and the information will help them to gain a better understanding of this impact.
“When I look at the report and how the funds were utilized, it just confirms our decision of where we decided to allocate in 2017 and just that confidence knowing that it was used in a way that did have an impact,” she said. “A lot of these programs are programs that are going to be around for a long time and that's a reality whereas others might be able to address the need that's currently there and may then have opportunity to shift their focus in another direction. That changes year by year too.”
Swift Current United Way's fundraising campaign for 2018 was launched during a kick-off breakfast on May 16. Non-profit organizations will be able to submit grant applications at the end of May.
“Any non-profit that's registered with CRA can apply for funding with Swift Current United Way,” she said. “They will have two months, June and July, to get their applications in to us, and then August and September will be when we go through the grant process and selection and determining who is eligible. Then the successful eligible organizations will be recognized at the Foundation of Hope gala.”
To view the full 2017 community impact report or for more information about the Swift Current United Way, go to the website www.swiftcurrentunitedway.com

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Matthew Liebenberg

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