Ryan’s Blog: Sharing Our Renovation

Ryan's Blog: Sharing Our Renovation

Sharing our renovation – United Way Perth-Huron’s new direction

A few years ago my young family was out-growing our small home. Mind you, it was a lovely home; an idyllic location, great neighbours, near downtown, parks, schools, and the library. We loved it. It had more than met our needs – it was, well….home. And yet, over time, things had changed. My oldest was beginning to notice that she was in fact sleeping in a closet! We needed more room.

So, we began to plan for a significant renovation/addition project. This took a couple of years – we had to figure out the money, we had to find a reputable contractor, we had to find a reputable architect – then, we worked with them to create, on paper, our new home: A home that would meet the needs of our family going forward.

It was an exciting time – all those ideas we had, refined, to produce an amazing plan!

And then we waited – we waited until the snow would melt so we could begin the work.

Spring came – hooray – the long awaited time! The contractor began his work – first tearing off a part of our house, then, pouring a new foundation for the addition. I enjoyed every minute of it – watching, waiting, making adjustments on the way – even selecting paint (OK, empowering my wife to choose all of the colours because it was better for everyone!).

For the most part, our neighbours enjoyed the process too, even thought they had to put up with a lot of noise and dirt.

Finally, it was all done. And before we knew it, we were living in the house we had dreamed of – yet somehow, it was still home: Different, big enough for our family, but the same – same location, same neighbours, same feeling. It was still home.

UWPH has undergone a similar renovation. Today, I would like to give you a quick tour of our new digs. The community had changed – social problems were more intractable, the community was asking us to do more and different things – and in response, we began planning nearly 3 years ago. A great deal of work has gone into our planning.

Perhaps you will remember….

About three years ago, our Community Impact Committee asked the community some questions:

  • What is your ideal community
  • What role should UWPH play in creating this ideal community

We met with focus groups, set up ballot boxes in arenas, libraries and malls – we did surveys…all to collect important feedback from our citizens. And, you responded. You told us that the ideal community was safe, healthy, had a strong economy, great education system, was inclusive and generally had a high quality of life. You told us that you wanted UWPH to be a bridge builder (someone who helps the community collaborate), a communicator (someone who told the community about available services), a fundraiser, facilitator, advocate and a researcher.

With this back drop in mind, our board began its process of setting long term direction. And, last year at our AGM in June, revealed four Strategic Directions. Collaborative and Cooperative Community; Evidence Based Action; Clearly Defined Priorities, and Increased Revenue & Resources. These directions are set to guide us for the next 10 years.

Through these efforts, the community and the board confirmed many of the roles which were emerging over time; other roles, such as being more of an advocate or a social planner were asked for (although using different language), and are now becoming a more significant part of who we are. So, in the coming years we plan to lead in many ways: As a Funder, a Convenor, a Collaborator, a Social Researcher, a Social Planner, an Incubator, an Advocate, and a Shared Service Provider. All of this to create the greatest community impact possible.

To that end, UWPH has set a course to improve lives and build community by engaging individuals and mobilizing collective action around shared priorities.

We are doing this by moving from what can be characterized as Isolated Impact, where we have received applications from a single agency to fund a single program, to funding via a collective impact framework: A framework that still allows us to work with individual agencies and programs to some degree, but focuses the outcomes on wider issues, and encourages more collaboration among our partners. We plan to move together toward creating the greatest community impact possible.

To guide our community investments going forward, we are proud to introduce a new Community Impact Plan which is nationally aligned and locally forged. Over the past year and a half, UWPH has engaged its partners, constituents and a consultant to develop a set of new priorities for investment. After a thorough process, we will be investing in:

All that Kids Can Be: Helping children and youth reach their full potential

From Poverty to Possibility: Meeting basic human needs and moving people out of poverty

Strong Communities: Strengthening community services and increasing community engagement

Potential partners will have the opportunity to apply for support through three Investment streams:

  • Youth In Action Grants – one year, driven by youth, for youth
  • New Initiative Grants – one year, provided to partners who want to create, expand or test a new program
  • Impact Funding Grants – 3 years, provided to partners who will align with our new community impact plan. By extending our granting process from 1 to 3 years in this category, we anticipate being able to provide greater stability to supported partners while enabling us to better measure the impact of our investment.

Matching with our 3 year new granting cycle, we will be launching a 3 year campaign. Donors will still have opportunity to give each year but for the first time they can pledge over a 3 year period linking their investment with the program cycle. This also opens the door for major gift investments connected with one or more focused issues. It allows us to match our fundraising with our longer term investment. So, when we kick off our campaign this fall, we will share with you a 3 year goal and a one year goal (how much we need to raise in the first year to be successful overall). And, as part of our campaigning, we will be working with individuals or corporations to get being specific projects with major gifts. UWPH will continue to raise money by receiving individual pledges through payroll, or individual gifts as we always have, while creating opportunities for larger investments. If you have 100K and you want to invest it in something that will make a substantial, measurable impact in our community, feel free to talk to me after the dinner – we will soon have some concrete ideas!

Also, we are experimenting. We have a pilot project occurring in North Perth as we speak. There we have gathered a group of citizens to identify and prioritize local social issues. We will then work with service providers to consider interventions, and invite applications for funding. In the fall, we will be launching our first parallel campaign – a special, more localized effort to raise additional dollars in North Perth for North Perth Priorities: A model, if successful, that could be actioned in other smaller centres throughout Perth and Huron.

Finally, as we finish the tour of our newly renovated home, I want to announce that for the first time UWPH will have an open call for expressions of interest in our funding. Any charitable organization serving Perth and Huron will have the opportunity to express interest in receiving UWPH funding. On May 1st, for six weeks, we are open for business – ready to receive your expression of interest. With our new community impact plan in mind, we are looking for partners who can best co-create a better future for our community, focused on the priorities of All that Kids can Be, From Poverty to Possibility and Building Strong Communities.

I hope you enjoyed your tour of our newly renovated United Way! It’s a significant change (no more children sleeping in closets); but, it’s still home.

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