“Imagine all the people living life in peace”.
United Way has been guided by fundamental principles that we should all expect from ourselves and grant to others. These words carry even more weight today. Or so we hope.
Meanwhile, tragic events continue to demonstrate that without equity for all, the community we aspire to be is nothing but a dream. That is why we invite all dreamers to join the project of imagining and creating a better world.
No matter what race, income, where we come from or our zip code, every individual should have the opportunity to thrive. That’s why we do what we do: fight for the education, financial stability and health of every individual in our community. We support our communities in this time of pain and call on everyone to come together to heal wounds, address structural problems and ensure equity for all. We believe that by doing so, we will succeed in building that world to which we aspire.
There is no single or right way to address the challenges we face. That is why we all need to work collectively, in all sorts of different ways, but with the same goal. Through research and planning, mobilizing volunteers, engaging the community, investing in other NGOs’ programs and initiatives, and raising public awareness, we are creating real and measurable change in people’s lives.
Each generation never knows what history will ask from them. But what history has shown us is that when there is unity, collaboration, and empathy, humanity moves forward. This pandemic, the climate crisis and the economic crisis are a warning to communities that have not done their Agenda 2030 homework.
It has been 6 months since the pandemic in Spain started, and we are beginning “a new school year”. In these last 6 months we have done our best to ensure that all the education programs we had in place to combat school dropout rates and to accompany the elderly have continued, and some have been able to be extended during the summer. Thanks to the generosity of more than 500 people and 5 companies that have donated to the #United2help campaign we launched, we have been able to help 10,434 people in different ways by raising $200,000 until June 1st.
But the work continues. And we haven’t stopped. The pandemic has shown how the most disadvantaged are affected by their situation of risk or social exclusion. Aggravating old inequalities and creating new ones. Mothers with precarious jobs who did not earn money and who have children in their care. Children whose parents cannot help with online education because they themselves did not receive an education (let alone a digital one) or cannot afford a wi-fi connection. Older people who remain equally or more isolated than ever. Health habits that have worsened by the lack of sport or a healthy nutrition. For the first time since 1990, the UN warns that the poor will become poorer, as this crisis impacts fully and simultaneously on the 3 pillars on which UNITED WAY works and which measure human development: health, education and income.
We believe that our collective impact model is necessary and effective. A model where public-private collaboration is key. We know that the impact generated by the social initiatives of companies when they are aligned with the needs of their environment and the actions of the administrations, is more effective and efficient. That is why coordination with the third sector and civil society is more necessary than ever. Since the pandemic began, thanks to United Way’s existing alliances with its more than 52,000 corporate partners, and specially with what we call Global Corporate Leaders, we have received donations to continue supporting more people locally in Spain. Also, thanks to new alliances with Spanish companies, we will be able to expand the number of beneficiaries. But after the confinement we do not want to rebuild what did not work. We want to “imagine” a new future and for that we have to get more resources.
As of September 1st, 11 more companies and 3 individual donors have joined. Our new goal, until December 2021, is to raise at least one million euros to continue fighting inequality by creating a more resilient society where all members can achieve their full potential. This is a humble goal for a network as large as ours: 1,800 delegations in more than 40 countries. Specially if we compare the $91 million raised so far in South Korea by our partners, The community chest of Korea, or the more than $500 million from the US, but it is ambitious for United Way Spain, a foundation with only 4 years of existence.
UNITED WAY was born 133 years ago to help ensure that no member of every community is left behind. We still think the same way. We were born to help, and we believe that only if we all do it will we be able to build that world we aspire to.
If you believe that a society is rich and successful only when no member is left behind, join us and support our work by volunteering, donating, advocating … GET INVOLVED. Everything counts. No matter how big or small, be part of your community! As Lennon said: “You can say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one” #LIVEUNITED
Marina Fuentes Arredonda
CEO, Fundación United Way España
Illustration: Ignacio Hildebrandt