WILKES-BARRE — What kind of community do you want to live in?
That’s the top question the United Way of Wyoming Valley is asking in a new Community Ask Survey that will eventually help organization officials and volunteers decide how donations will be distributed to member agencies.
The survey is a tool the organization will use as part of its strategic planning process that will lead the organization to a new model of funding — a community-impact model, United Way of Wyoming Valley President and CEO Bill Jones explained on Monday.
Most people understand that the United Way has used a “funding-conduit model” in the past — people donate to the United Way and the United Way distributes those donations to 46 programs in 25 member agencies, Jones said.
“Despite all that good work by the member agencies, community issues still exist and just aren’t getting better,” Jones said.
So, in response, “we’re studying the needs of the community, the aspirations of the community. By the end of the calendar year, we’re trying to focus in on some priorities that are important to the community, and we will develop strategies around those priorities,” Jones said.
United Way workers and volunteers will work with the Institute for Public Policy and Economic Development to analyze the survey responses as well as local, statewide and national data about the area to determine what is wanted and needed in the community.
“Then we’ll invite the member agencies in, say: ‘This is what we’re trying to attain,’ and request proposals from them” on how their programs will meet the community goals, Jones said.
The United Way’s Community Impact Council will review the proposals and the ones that best address the strategies developed to meet community priorities will get funded.
The United Way already has an electronic version of the survey online, and volunteers also are conducting personal interviews with community members and “having group conversations with all different segments of the community,” Jones said.
“We want to hear from everyone — people who are donors, people who aren’t donors. We want to be able to say the results of this work will reflect the aspirations of the community,” he said.
Jones said he hopes that survey work will be wrapped up by the end of July and “we hope to have a focus on our priorities at the end of the calendar year.”