United Way: A Catalyst for Change
“We fight for the education, health, housing and financial stability of every person in Orange County.” —Max L. Gardner, President and CEO United Way.
In Orange County, a consolidated approach to improve education, health, housing and financial stability is being led by United Way. Why United Way? Because tackling complex issues to improve conditions for local families, individuals and children takes a movement and leadership with organizations and business leaders that understand that every sector needs to join together to create healthier places to live, learn and work.
United Way brings organizations, businesses and leaders together in cross-sector collaborations to create powerful change. “Together, our community aligns and leverages the efforts of many organizations and individuals working to solve issues that affect the next generation,” said Max Gardner, President and CEO, United Way. “Our 10-year plan addresses four significant issues: the high school dropout rate; financial instability; childhood obesity; and homeless children and families.”
Encouraging people to give back, while connecting them to local issues is at the heart of United Way. United Way has been a leader in aligning charitable giving on this multifaceted effort. Jeff Swanson, Senior Vice President of Philanthropy at United Way shared his thoughts on charitable giving. “Philanthropy takes on many shapes and provides multiple ways to give back. A singular gift can transform lives and collective giving has a sustaining impact. Giving is about engagement that extends beyond funding and includes advocacy and volunteerism. Our partners understand the power of giving to United Way.”
“We are unique in our approach and in who we attract. We have philanthropists of virtually all ages and all stages of life,” notes Swanson.
- The Youth Volunteer Committee are high school and college-aged students that plan and carry out volunteer activities.
- Emerging Leaders are young professionals motivated to make change happen.
- Women United is a dedicated group of women that invest $1,000 or more annually and inspire other women to join forces.
- The Tocqueville Society represents local individuals and families who annually invest $10,000 or more on critical community impact initiatives.
- The Women’s Philanthropy Fund engages hundreds of local women each year– collectively raising more than $34 million over the past twelve years on initiatives serving women and children.
“Our mission is to be a catalyst for engaged philanthropy, encouraging people to learn about the issues, give back and see the impact in their local community,” said Swanson. “I joined United Way to help advance the philanthropic investments needed in our community. I am inspired everyday by individuals who care about their community. The programs we are administering and expanding make a difference. I see it the eyes of a teacher as she receives new resources for her classroom…in the parent who increases the income he needs to care for his family…and in the donor who invests both money and time to make change happen. Individuals investing in others, that’s United Way.”