United Way polling residents for priorities

Like everyone else, the local nonprofit sector is feeling the pinch in these tough economic times. Nonprofits that serve the area’s disadvantaged populations are finding there’s more drain on their services and resources, so many are taking a hard look at just what their most important priorities are.

So it is at the United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County, which distributes some $3.6 million yearly to 88 programs run by 39 area nonprofits, ranging from Pisgah Legal Services to Big Brothers/Big Sisters to MANNA FoodBank. The organization has begun a yearlong venture to refine its focus—to determine which key needs and benchmarks of the progress to emphasize.

To make the right call, the United Way needs substantial community input, according to Community Fund Director Lance Edwards. In fact, he notes, the first stage of the process is the organization’s ongoing online Community Conditions Survey, which is at www.unitedwayabc.org. It takes only moments to fill out, but Edwards stresses how important the results will be.

Along with demographic data on local, state and national trends, the “survey data will be distributed to our funding councils—local volunteers that will help us determine which areas to target—to guide them in deciding what we should focus on,” he says.

The survey will remain online until noon on Friday, Dec. 12. For more information, contact Edwards 255-0696.

About Jon Elliston
An Asheville-based mountain journalist: Former Mountain Xpress managing editor. Investigations and open government editor at Carolina Public Press. Senior contributing editor at WNC magazine.

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