All around the country, community service is powered by such a wide variety of organizations that it almost seems like they would trip over each other to find ways to help out those in need. The spirit of giving and the desire to help others is evidenced strongly in the work done by churches, charitable organizations, youth groups, and social clubs that gather to pitch in and help. But when you think of community service, one organization stands out because their work literally grabs headlines by bringing together those dozens of organizations into one coordinated effort. That group is appropriately named The United Way.
More than any other effort, the United Way has made the greatest strides at mobilizing this army of volunteers into one coordinated effort to participate in ongoing community service in the communities they serve. Each fall, if is almost impossible not to be aware of the United Way as they mount their annual fundraising campaign to get their year off in a strong way.
The United Way has found the resources to penetrate an area of society that has the greatest resources to make a difference in community service and that is the American business community. Through the “Fair Share” program, businesses small and large commonly make the United Way campaign a significant part of their corporate life each fall. The ethic of reaching 100% participation and the recognition that the United Way gives to businesses who can muster that level of enthusiasm from their employees goes a long way to help the United Way reach the kind of success they have achieved.
But achieving “100% participation” for business means more than just getting each employee to set aside their fair share of money to help out the many organizations that benefit from the United Way. It also means sending armies of volunteers from their corporate ranks out into the community to pitch in and paint schools, plant gardens, build playgrounds and participate in dozens of other coordinated projects that the United Way sponsors during their annual campaign. This united effort gives companies a chance to raise their profile as solid members of the community and encourage their employees to give back to the community in gratitude for allowing the business to prosper in that town.
It is truly amazing the number of companies that actually give every employee in their company a paid day to go and participate in United Way projects. This is called the “United Way Day of Service” and it demonstrates that even though the business is about making money, the heart of the business is about doing good for others as well and they too can find a way to pitching if someone gives them the opportunity. The United Way makes that opportunity and everybody benefits from their strong leadership.
Without a doubt, one of the big reasons the United Way is so successful is that they represent so many charitable organizations. The United Way is not in existence to benefit just one cause. The “united” part of the United Way means that yes, they are bringing together businesses, churches, and every institution they can rally to work together for community service. But it also means that their work will go to benefit literally dozens of worthwhile causes from the outcome of the fundraising and coordinated volunteer work of United Way sponsors.
We can be grateful that this approach to community service has been put together so each small charity does not have to struggle alone. By becoming part of the United Way, even small businesses can make an effort to combine with larger businesses to make a real difference in their community. The United Way has proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that there really is power in working together.