What Matters

Each year nearly 1,000 members of our community volunteer time and money with the United Way of New Canaan. Most people know the United Way from our annual appeal for funds. However this is only one step in a proven process that identifies real need and provides programs that have real impact for real people.

Real Need

Because our officers, directors, staff, and volunteers live and work in New Canaan we are focused on the needs of our community. Regular contact with individuals, community groups, and government officials provides an ongoing process to identify needs. And periodically we conduct formal community need assessments. Over the years we have played a key role in establishing the Senior Center, Teen Center, and Youth Commission. We also established the Touch A Life Fund, which works with the Human Services Department to bring emergency help to individuals living in New Canaan. Last year, we organized ACCESS New Canaan, which completed an assessment of programs for people with special needs and began work on programs to address those needs.

Real Impact

We partner with agencies to provide programs needed in our community. As you would expect, community needs and agency grant requests exceed the funds raised in our annual campaign. To ensure that we invest funds where they will have the most impact we have developed a unique and effective community volunteer allocation process. Last year 50 community volunteers joined panels that focused on agencies and programs grouped to respond to the needs identified through our assessments. Following completion of training, the panels spent several months conducting in depth on-site visits and meeting with professional staff and board members from our partner agencies to review and evaluate grant requests. A committee that included all panel leaders then reviewed individual panel recommendations and prepared overall recommendations for final review and approval by our board.

In addition to funding programs, the community volunteer allocation process also provides less obvious impact. By recruiting and training community volunteers, we provide an opportunity for volunteers to gain an understanding of our community needs. On-site visits and meetings provide a forum for our staff and volunteers to provide guidance to our partner agencies with operating issues, including fundraising, program outcome measurement, and recruiting and training of staff, board members, and volunteers. And we create a pool of trained volunteers that often go on to volunteer with agencies they learn about through participation in the process.

Real People

Our programs affect real people. Children are encouraged to succeed, families and individuals are strengthened, basic and emergency needs are met, and vulnerable populations are supported. As you read through the following summary of agencies, programs, and allocations, it is important to remember that this is just a financial representation of what we do. What matters is that when you or a neighbor needs help, it is likely that a local United Way program will be there.


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