As September dawns, much of the workforce in HRM becomes attuned to the annual United Way campaign.
United Way is at the core of a movement inspired by a genuine passion for social change. It’s a movement powered by people willing to share their time, talent and resources for the common good. And it’s a movement improving individual lives and the social conditions of our community every single day.
The United Way is one of many organizations that make up the “Giving Sector” — perhaps better known as the third sector or social sector, voluntary sector, non-profit sector, or the charitable sector.
We are not always valued as a contributor but have a unique value. Our relationships and expertise connect us to the entire social fabric of our community and the vast capacities and resources our region has to offer.
Here are several value proof points.
1. We provide significant employment. The Nova Scotia voluntary/non-profit sector employs about 25,000 workers. That’s roughly the same as the construction industry and a little more than in federal public service.
2. Our results strengthen community. Many non-profits have a laser-like focus on results. Doing good matters. Making a lasting difference matters more. In order to gain funding from United Way, agencies must rigorously measure outcomes.
3. We help secure jobs for business. A strong non-profit sector plays a leading role in closing the deal with prospective employment candidates. A symphony, a recreational centre, a youth club, volunteer opportunities or a daycare can be deal makers in the recruitment process.
4. We help secure jobs for newcomers. Many community agencies like the Metropolitan Immigrant Settlement Association (MISA) get newcomers settled by making vital connections to help them find work.
5. We help businesses perform. The 2006 Canadian Census reports a record number of single parents and non-traditional families in HRM. Family resource centres, parent support groups, after-school and breakfast programs enable many of your employees to balance work and family commitments.
6. We reduce tax burden. Non-profits focus on building self-sufficiency by helping clients help themselves. This reduces reliance on government-funded social services and tax burden on HRM residents and business.
The intersection of economic development, community development and civic engagement is a sweet spot we have not fully cultivated. Each one needs to exert different leadership in different times.
Social stability is essential to economic stability, making the “Giving Sector” an important part of HRM vitality.
Catherine J. Woodman is the president and CEO of the United Way of Halifax Region.