If this year has taught us anything, it is that hope indeed springs eternal.
We are eternally grateful for you LIVING UNITED through this overwhelming year, answering the call when we needed you the most.
We’ve faced challenges we never expected, overcome odds stacked against us, learned things we couldn’t have imagined, banded together on a scale we never thought possible and, just recently, received historic gifts that will pave the way for a brighter tomorrow.
Through it all, our staff and partners here at United Way of Northeast Florida have continued to improve lives and advance the common good – while ramping up our efforts to address a huge increase in need. I have seen our staff, our donors, our volunteers, our partners and our entire community step up in extraordinary ways.
Extraordinary Triumphs You've Made Possible
- Our United Way 211 call center specialists have answered an unprecedented 117% increase in calls for help this year, monitoring phone lines from their living rooms.
- Our RealSense team, despite closures to our free tax preparation sites, still managed to file more than 17,000 tax returns for hardworking families, collectively saving millions of dollars for the families who need it most.
- Our volunteer department also found new, innovative ways to engage safely and safely engage hundreds of volunteers, a critical force for so many of our initiatives and partner organizations.
- We deployed $5.6 million to 112 organizations working on the front lines to ensure people were safe, fed and housed during the pandemic.
And, all the while, we continued to support our network of nonprofit agencies who were finding new ways to adapt and address critical community issues like financial stability, youth success and health. We also owe a huge debt of gratitude to three monumental leaders in giving.
In March, as the pandemic reached us and businesses shuttered, one-third of our annual fundraising had not yet kicked off. Florida Blue, recognizing the seriousness of the situation and the potential massive strain on our ability to fund programs, granted us a 2-to-1 match on their employees’ giving. This gift not only provided support but also served as an example for others that, now more than ever, we must support our community through United Way.
This Monday, we announced a partnership in the works since the summer. Miller Electric Company and CEO Henry Brown, inspired by their passion for driving equity in Northeast Florida, gave a tremendous $1 million gift for our focus on racial justice.
And, just today, we announced author and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott’s historic gift, the largest single donation in our organization’s 96-year history. Scott selected us from among 6,904 reviewed organizations. According to Scott, we were chosen for our “strong leadership teams and results, with special attention to those operating in communities facing high projected food insecurity, high measures of racial inequity, high local poverty rates, and low access to philanthropic capital.”
What's Next for United Way
Over the next few months, United Way will develop its long-term strategy for how to
best utilize this extraordinary gift. This will include creating sustainable initiatives for the benefit of our community that effectively address the most pressing issues we face.
Simply put, none of this would have been possible without each and every one of you. Without the year-round giving and support from donors like you, we would not have generated the impact that made these donations possible. We are calling on the entire community to join us in our fight.
We will be facing a changed world for many years to come. Some of those changes are out of our hands. But many are within our control. Because what we do together today determines tomorrow.
One of my favorite Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. quotes says, "Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that."
Thank you for being the beacon of light and hope our community needs. We are so very grateful.
Safe and well wishes to you and yours,
President and CEO
United Way of Northeast Florida
P.S. To learn more about the lives
you’re changing and what we’ve been working on, please visit our blog.