Non-profit organizations abound everywhere in the world and some of these organizations are engaged in charity work. In most cases, non-profit organizations have specialized or dedicated functions such as engaging in the spread of a particular faith, working for the cause of animal welfare, serving to protect the rights of children or even providing assistance to the homeless. There non-profit organizations though that have several initiatives under their wings and their organizational structures effectively and efficiently manage the different thrusts thereto. One of these world-renowned organizations is the United Way Worldwide that saw humble beginnings in Denver, Colorado in the late 1800s. The organization is not only a not-for-profit entity but has become a "leadership and support organization for the network of nearly 1,800 community-based United Ways in 45 countries and territories (United Way 2011)." Even at present, the United Way is still growing worldwide with the establishment of community-based organizations under the umbrella of United Way.
In order to better understand and appreciate the mission and vision of United Way Worldwide, it is first important to know the setup of United Way and look at the historical origins thereof. The founding people behind the United Way began their noble undertaking in 1887 when "they created an organization to serve as an agent to collect funds for local charities, as well as to coordinate relief services, counsel and refer clients to cooperating agencies, and make emergency assistance grants in cases which could not be referred (United Way 2011)." Accordingly what they did was centralized collection and relief efforts in order to have a more manageable system in helping the poor and the needy in the community. The system the founders of United Way established over 120 years ago is still the fundamental system of United Way Worldwide today albeit it is now on a global scale. One can say the United Way has become a "one-stop shop" that charitable organizations can go and seek various help and other support services.
The mission of United Way is to "improve lives by mobilizing the caring power of communities around the world to advance the common good (United Way 2011)." To do so, the organization focuses on education, income and health and these are inculcated in the goals that it has formulated in 2008, whose achievement thereof is targeted for achievement by 2018. The ten-year program to meet the realization of the United Way goals comprises the following (United Way 2011):
Improve education, and cut the number of high school dropouts -- 1.2 million students, every year -- in half.
Help people achieve financial stability, and get 1.9 million working families -- half the number of lower-income families who are financially unstable -- on the road to economic independence.
Promote healthy lives, and increase by one-third the number of youth and adults who are healthy and avoid risky behaviors.
The mission and the goals of the organization may seem daunting but the United Way has had a viable and successful track record in accomplishing seemingly insurmountable tasks. Having existed for 127 years is proof positive of the enduring strength and steadfastness of this organization especially with regards to the fulfillment of their noteworthy efforts of uplifting the conditions of those that the organization provides services to. Achieving the mission will be done via the following (United Way Worldwide 2011):
Ignite a worldwide social movement, and thereby mobilize millions to action -- to give, advocate and volunteer to improve the conditions in which they live
Galvanize and connect all sector of society -- individuals, businesses, non-profit organizations and governments -- to create long-term social change that produces healthy, well-educated and financially-stable individuals and families
Raise, invest and leverage billions of funds annually in philanthropic contributions to create and support innovative programs and approaches to generate sustained impact in local communities
Hold ourselves accountable to this cause through our steadfast commitment to continually measure -- in real terms -- improvement in education, income and health
The noble mission of the United Way is derived from the equally heartwarming vision the organization has where it "envisions a world where all individuals and families achieve their human potential through education, income stability and healthy lives (United Way Worldwide 2011)." In the same manner as how the organization has a roadmap for achieving its mission, attainment of its vision has concrete manifestations also where the organization wants to have a world (United Way Worldwide 2011):
Where all children receive a quality education that offers a pathway to a brighter tomorrow
Where the cycle of poverty and financial dependence ends, and productive livelihoods begin for even the most disadvantaged
Where everyone receives effective health care that improves quality of life
Where communities not only set significant and measurable goals to advance these fundamental elements of human development, but achieve them
Choosing to write about United Way Worldwide was an easy option because of my familiarity with the work being done by this organization. In particular, United Way's efforts in education, income and health are fundamental issues that need to be addressed to help alleviate the dire situations majority of people all over the world are facing. Education for instance is not only the right of every child or any individual in the world but when taken seriously and availability of which is accorded on a major scale, it will lessen ignorance. The informed and learned individual will then be able to make better choices about his or her life. In United Way Worldwide's case, the organization believes "education is the cornerstone of individual and community success. All children deserve the chance to grow into healthy, educated and productive members of society no matter where or when they are born. (United Way Worldwide 2011)" Thus, I firmly believe that the organization's efforts in lessening the number of the millions of dropout all over the world and providing educational programs that will see through the continued education of individuals are important steps in alleviating ignorance. The efforts of United Way Worldwide in education are real manifestations in the belief that "a mind is a terrible thing to waste."
I can see from where United Way Worldwide is coming from also especially with begging their efforts in education. Once people are educated, they have the capabilities and knowledge of working at jobs or professions. By having a job or a profession, income will be coming in and poverty will be alleviated. Thus, there is a synergy between having educational programs and "promoting community-change strategies to help families meet their basic needs, while gaining the financial capability to plan for, and accomplish, their long-term financial goals (United Way Worldwide 2011)." The creation of income opportunities through education comprises not only of the formal education from elementary to college but having technical and vocational training programs as well. These particular programs will allow individuals to have a viable trade that they can readily apply in specific work industries. But the way United Way Worldwide does this is not with a "single bullet" solution rather the organization "creates opportunities for a better life for all by focusing on the individual needs of communities around the world (United Way Worldwide 2011)." I know for a fact through various readings on the organization and having talked with friends, relatives, and acquaintances who have volunteered or are still volunteers with the United Way that an educational and income program in India are vastly different from those in an impoverished Latin American country or an emerging economy in Eastern Europe.
The educational initiative of United Way Worldwide is aimed at feeding the mind while the income opportunities are geared towards filing the stomach and meeting the financial needs. But in continuing the synergy, these endeavors will be worthless without concerns to the health and well-being of people. This is one reason also why I chose to write about this organization because it has married the importance of health with education and income opportunities. Indeed, what is the use of having an education and a viable income if a person cannot enjoy the fruits thereof because he or she is infirmed. I was impressed with a back to basics approach of United Way Worldwide when it comes to its health programs. The reason being is that the organization United Way Worldwide is providing "access to affordable and quality health care provision of potable water to communities, child vaccinations, intervention for victims of abuse, or those struggling with mental illness or an addiction (United Way Worldwide 2011)." I am sure that other non-profit organizations perform the same initiatives but United Way Worldwide does so in conjunction with the two other thrusts it has. Further, the organization has vast resources worldwide that can ensure the continuity and viability of any and all programs being implemented.
I may appear to be biased for United Way Worldwide but it is not without reasons. The organization has always proven its mettle and especially during their annual fund raising campaign, United…