The United Way has long been known as an agency dedicated to supporting organizations focusing on the social service needs of communities across the world, with help from the business community on a local and national scale.
Serving as a connector in local communities, families or individuals in need of educational or financial support or health-related services, can find assistance through their local United Way chapter.
Where is My Money Going?
When we think of the United Way often what springs to mind are the fundraisers – the smiling faces of volunteers standing out at our local Publix collecting non-perishables for food drives or friends and neighbors participating in a 5K, like the recent Pink on Parade for breast cancer awareness presented by AdventHealth, or other charitable event to raise money.
But the United Way is really so much more.
Using the Community Impact model, the United Way identifies and targets the root causes of need within a community, providing grant funding to qualified organizations and agencies, while measuring the return on investment and impact of grant funds within the community.
From the $50,000 a year grant that helps sustain services at the Family Life Center, Flagler County’s only rape crisis and domestic violence shelter, to the Flagler County Education Foundation’s $100,000 grant supporting the Classrooms to Careers Program, providing students direct training and support as they prepare to lead meaningful lives as successful, productive members of the community, your dollars stay local.
Leading the charge for the United Way Volusia-Flagler Counties is Courtney Edgcomb, who succeeded Dennis Burns as the chapter’s president in 2019. Serving the United Way for nearly a decade, most recently as vice president, she helped to lead the organization into a successful implementation of the Community Impact model in 2017, while inspiring the community to be generous with their support.
“When someone donates to United Way, they’re not just funding one specific program, they’re funding 20 different programs across 16 nonprofits and other community resources that the United Way employs, so it really is like a one stop shop to be able to support the whole community,” said Edgcomb.
“Every little bit counts and that’s the biggest thing with United Way. A majority of our campaign is made up of individual donors who choose to give a dollar or two or three a paycheck, and when you add all that up, that’s how we get to $2 million.”
Florida-based grocer Publix is the United Way’s largest donor worldwide, and Edgcomb says the $1 million of funding provided to the United Way Volusia-Flagler Counties makes up nearly half of the organization’s $2.2 million annual budget.
“They are by and large the largest donor to us,” said Edgcomb.
In March 2020, Publix announced a pledge of $37.5 million from their employee giving program, with Publix Charities donating an additional $25 million, for a total of $62.5 million to the United Way in 2019.
“We’re honored to be recognized as United Way’s No. 1 Global Corporate Leader,” said Publix CEO Todd Jones. “Our founder, George Jenkins, believed in the benefit of giving to United Way because the funds raised support the critical needs of the community through local agencies. I’m proud of our associates for continuing the legacy of giving Mr. George exemplified.”
Supporting those efforts locally on a smaller scale are major community sponsors like Brown & Brown Insurance, the Root Organization, NASCAR, Florida Power and Light and Intracoastal Bank.
“For those smaller businesses, they are the backbone of our community. A lot of times their involvement, putting it in their employees’ hands to make charitable decisions, is a really big deal,” explains Edgcomb.
“It helps to build them up as community champions because they see what the needs are in the community and they’re willing to do something about it.”
Creating a Sustainable Future of Corporate Social Responsibility
Serving on the Community Foundation of Volusia & Flagler, a division of the United Way, Intracoastal Bank President Bruce Page agrees with Edgcomb, and says his commitment allows him to stay actively involved with the organization.
Forging a relationship early on between the United Way Volusia-Flagler Counties and Intracoastal Bank, Page says it was important for his entire company to have the opportunity to support the United Way’s mission.
“Our support of the United Way stems from their ability to provide long-term solutions to the community by leveraging resources between businesses and nonprofits,” he said. “As a community bank, we know the health and wellbeing of our community is paramount to a successful business environment.”
With a 100% participation rate in the employee giving program, it’s the generous nature of the community bank’s employees and the broad reaching results of the United Way, inspiring them to give.
“We attribute much of the success to each employee understanding United Way’s value in the community and the leadership of the bank to provide a corporate gift in addition to individual employees’ gifts. We know that whether you live in Volusia or Flagler counties, United Way impacts the life of someone you know in the community and we want to be a part of supporting that work.”
Following in his father’s footsteps, Ryan Page heads up the United Way Volusia-Flagler Counties’ Community Impact Team. As a Senior Vice President at Intracoastal Bank and as part of the next generation of leaders, he’s deeply invested in the community.
“When Ryan started at Intracoastal, I realized that this was an opportunity for our family and company to continue our legacy of service to the United Way,” said Bruce Page. “His experience at a United Way in another market with a young professionals group was the perfect fit for UWVFC’s launch of Generation IMPACT and the Social Innovation Fund. More importantly, I wanted Ryan to be able to contribute to our community’s development in a meaningful way.”
For Ryan, taking a leadership role in the next generation of community voices through Generation IMPACT, allowing young professionals an opportunity to work with high school, college or vocational students providing support for innovative projects through mini grants, has been an eye-opening experience.
“I’ve been able to experience the excitement and support of young professionals in our community for innovative ideas,” he said. “The Social Innovation Fund has given confidence to students with great ideas and shown them that they can make a difference. I’m excited to take on this next chapter as a board member of United Way and see how we can continue to evolve to meet the needs of Flagler and Volusia counties. I support the United Way because I see how their work connects issues in our community and develops plans for measurable impact.”
The United Way inspires a legacy not only of giving but also of volunteerism. A role model for many women, Donna Murray, owner of Murray & Murray Insurance, has been leading by example, investing in others and inspiring women by creating opportunities to get and stay involved.
Focusing on helping women and children through programs like Chicks with Cans and the annual Power of the Purse gala, Murray served as president of the United Way Women’s Initiative in 2012 (now Women United Flagler),and was named Woman of the Year in 2013. Demonstrating how impactful women in the community can be by making a difference together, she’s regarded as a true leader.
“I feel the United Way gave me the chance to give back and gave me enormous inspiration,” said Murray. “United Way inspired me and allowed me to invest in this county well. They helped me make Flagler a better place and I hold my head up high with the success of United Way and the others who helped me make that possible. This is why it is so important to support the United Way.”
For more information on the United Way Volusia-Flagler Counties, visit www.unitedwayvfc.org.