It’s fitting MacKenzie Scott titled her December 2020 blog post 384 Ways to Help as so many individuals ended the year in urgent need of direction. People were – and still are – struggling from the effects of the pandemic, natural disasters, and social injustices, while others were – and still are – looking for simple ways to help.
She and her team of advisors accelerated her 2020 giving by taking a second pass at identifying organizations with “strong leadership teams and results” worthy of unexpected, unprecedented gifts to lift up their communities. In doing so, they developed yet another concise, thoughtful list to inspire action, generosity, and hope among individuals craving to help others. In selecting 46 local United Ways, she imbued trust in our organizations and supercharged our work to build stronger, more equitable communities. We may never be able to fully express our gratitude, but the thank-you’s will remain endless.
Thank you to Ms. Scott for seeing us for who we are. As modern United Ways, we have transformed and refined our collective impact model over the last 100 years, growing from pass-through funders to innovative change-makers implicitly focused on equity and inclusion. While the pandemic exacerbated urgent and emerging needs, she recognized we were built for this work – uniquely positioned to understand problems, identify disparities, and improve lives through direct service, collaboration, volunteerism, and advocacy. Her actions brought together our independent United Ways to make a difference and generate impact; to listen and learn from each other, leveraging our collective diversity to work together for the common good. And her giving allowed us to accelerate projects, dream up innovative ideas, and leverage the funds with purpose – just as she hoped.
One year later, we’re stabilizing individuals and households most impacted by the pandemic and other crises: feeding hungry children and families; granting crisis aid to struggling households; providing basic needs like housing and health care; helping nonprofit partners withstand drops in funding; rebuilding communities – especially those of color – affected by floods, wildfires, and hurricanes.
One year later, we’re also moving the needle on systemic inequities and closing racial gaps in wages, wealth, and education: providing support to Black-owned businesses and Black-led nonprofits; increasing access to financial capability, workforce readiness, and asset-ownership programming; elevating diverse voices and centering lived experience in the best way to deliver impact; stabilizing vulnerable critical-need sectors like child care; redesigning delivery models for essential health and human services.
Our dedicated teams continue to capitalize on Ms. Scott’s trust-based giving approach – cultivating donors, securing grants, and building capacity – to maximize every dollar for impact where it’s needed most in our communities. We recognize, though, we cannot do this work alone. It will take all of us, United, to build equitable communities with health, education, and economic opportunity for all. Ms. Scott recognizes that too, and we’re forever thankful that just as she invests in change, she encourages others to join her as they can: sharing more to make more and feeding hope for us all.
She wrote, “Each unique expression of generosity will have value far beyond what we can imagine or live to see.” Imagine the value our 46 United Ways will create in another year. In a decade. In a lifetime.
One year later, and we’re only getting started.