United Way of the Lowcountry Has Measurement Criteria

Special to Hilton Head Sun

The question, “Will my contribution make a difference is a core question for virtually all donors. And a closely related query is: Will my gift make a greater difference here or should I give to another cause?

“Our Island is a very giving community, says Paul Cifaldi, Sr. who has lived on Hilton Head since the 1970s. “There are many fine non-profit organizations here that provide important local services. I constantly struggle with this question of where to give, and I know a lot of my friends feel this struggle as well. United Way of the Lowcountry makes sense to me because it not only helps many different causes, but it also seems to take pride in knowing how its funds are meeting objectives. Therefore, I think my donation has a greater impact.”

Marty Gleason, a 4-year board member of United Way of The Lowcountry (UWLC), has been impressed as well with how the organization insists on funding only programs that show positive, measurable outcomes. This year’s campaign goal is $2.5 million which encompasses more than 30 nearby nonprofit agencies. And, to receive funding each must show that that the financial support they receive from UWLC is achieving results.

Children’s Center Results

Jody Levitt, director of The Children’s Center on Hilton Head Island, can attest to such a results-oriented focus. Each year the center, which strives to prepare 170 children from working families for kindergarten, must demonstrate how their goals were achieved.

“The United Way is really good at helping us be better at what we do,” Levitt says. “And we can now show with test-scoring that when our kids leave here they are entering kindergarten ready and prepared to do work at a kindergarten level.”

While it focuses on results, United Way of the Lowcountry has established four main areas of the community to target its efforts: basic needs, education, health and income/ family security, Gleason says.

In the basic-needs area, the organization supports such stalwart Hilton Head agencies as Deep Well Project and Second Helpings, which each assist individuals and families who fall on hard times. Such hard times were especially felt after Hurricane Matthew roared through in October.

“In the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, our United Way Helpline was getting 100 calls a day,” said Gleason. “It was way above our 30 to 40 calls a week. People had trees on their roof. They were out of work and out of food. They were just devastated.”

In response, UWLC infused $100,000 from its local reserves to directly aid agencies like Deep Well to shore up some of those short-term needs. And, unfortunately, many of those needs continue as the organization strives to fill back its reserves.

Increased Efficiencies Between Charities

Betsy Doughtie, Director of Deep Well Project, one of United Way’s foremost partner agencies on Hilton Head, gives particular praise to UWLC because she says it not only provides a major revenue stream of giving, but also serves to increase the efficiency of many local charities through cross communication initiatives

“United Way of the Lowcountry provides a superb conduit for us to work together with other local charities so we don’t overlap each other and waste time, energy and money,” said Doughtie.

High Marks from Charity Navigator

Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator, has given UWLC extremely high marks for its “accountability and transparency.”

Gleason also touts United Way’s local direct tutoring programs, designed to help struggling students read on grade level by fourth grade.

” Read Indeed”, which UWLC runs in-house, has more than 300 volunteer tutors working in nine local schools. During a recent school year the program helped 675 students. Reports show that of those students, 99 percent in Beaufort County increased their standardized-test scores.

Such success with that and other programs which United Way of The Lowcountry funds makes his efforts to raise money a labor of love for Gleason. “I truly believe in what we are accomplishing,” he say. “Therefore it’s easy for me to do fundraising.”

To donate to United Way of the Lowcountry, click here: United Way of the Lowcountry