Capitol Connection: The United Way’s Mission in Connecticut

October 29, 2013

Giving back to your community is clearly an admirable action, but it is not always easy to figure out where to donate your funds, which programs to support, and how a small contribution can impact the community as a whole.

Every community is different. Our needs, our strengths, and our weaknesses all vary. One remarkable organization that helps navigate our specific needs is the United Way. Here in Connecticut the United Way helps us support each community, where they need it most.

The United Way was founded in 1887 in Denver, when a woman, a priest, two ministers and a rabbi united their efforts to address their city’s welfare issues. Together they worked to raise funds for various local charities, and inspired a movement that gave birth to the United Way organization, which exists across our country over 125 years later.

The United Way has 18 locations in Connecticut, all of which collects and distributes funds to a variety of local organizations and national groups that serve individual communities. What makes the United Way such a unique and effective organization is the way funds are distributed to the charity organizations that get the best results.

According to the 2013 Connecticut United Way Policy Agenda, “United Ways have substantial knowledge and understanding of what is needed and what will work to advance the common good, based on our work, our assessments of need in our communities, and our close ties to community partners and those we serve.”

Essentially, United Way organizations act as hyper local experts on the needs, strengths and weaknesses of our communities. Supporting your local United Way is a powerful way to positively impact your own home and the lives of your neighbors.

United Way makes it easy to donate through a variety of programs, one of the most successful being the Workplace Campaigns that take place throughout our state. Businesses can partner with the United Way to launch fundraisers that enable employees to make donations through payroll deductions. These campaigns unite coworkers and motivate large numbers of people to contribute together.

I encourage all business owners to explore launching their own Workplace Campaigns. United Way makes it easy for business owners to launch campaigns by offering staff support, collateral and marketing materials, forms and pledging options, and ideas on how to promote your campaign through programming. While each local branch offers different materials, a great collection of guides, forms and materials can be found on the United Way of Western Connecticut’s website:; and on the United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut’s website:

The 2013 Connecticut United Way Policy Agenda focuses on education, income and health. Keeping that agenda in mind, I plan to focus my support this year on the United Way and the March of Dimes of Connecticut, a local charity supported by United Way funds. Every year nearly 500,000 babies are born prematurely, with 4,000 born here in Connecticut. The March of Dimes seeks to improve the health of mothers and infants and offers support to prevent and care for premature births and resulting complications.

How you choose to contribute to your local community can be impacted by personal experience, interests and other factors. Any way you choose to support local charities makes a positive impact. But, if you are not sure how provide the best support, contact your local United Way for insight and inspiration. A united effort can be extremely powerful.