Local investments, local results

I love the “buy local” campaign for Buncombe County. As president of a locally owned bank, I know how important it is to have support from our neighbors. Putting our money to work locally is the way we grow as a community.

When the May 22 Local Economy article called for examples of investing locally, I knew it was a great chance for me, as the chairman of the board of directors of United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County, to share information on the investments made by over 13,000 neighbors in our local community.

Four years ago United Way restructured the method of investing the community’s dollars. We identified specific community-level results for education, income and health as the building blocks for a good life for everyone.

We require any program receiving United Way funds to show the connection between their clients’ results and these pre-established community level results. If funded, programs are required to track the success of their clients and report the “return on investment” for the funds received from United Way.

Here is a snapshot of investments and the return on those investments through local contributions and local services to families:

2011-12: Investments of $702,816 for education in positive results anticipated for 2,849 individuals led to an actual return of 3,171 people experiencing the desired result.

Income investments of $721,286 in results anticipated for 20,676 people led to a return of 27,913 people experiencing the desired result. Health investments of $1,032,927 in results anticipated for 35,653 individuals led to a return of 39,975 people experiencing the desired result. That is a total return on investment of 112 percent.

2012-13: Investments of $2,457,031 are based on proposed success for 63,273 people in Buncombe County. In education, $752,733 is expected to support 3,375 individual results. In income, $758,980 is expected to support 24,309 individual results. In health, $945,318 is expected to support 35,589 individual results. The actual results will be finalized by each funded program and reported to United Way at the end of June, 2013. Once reviewed and compiled, we will share those final results.

So, let’s continue to buy locally and invest locally. And keep in mind that when it comes to capturing and reporting the return on investments in health and human services for families in Buncombe County, United Way has made the commitment to invest in programs that work and has the experience in tracking results.

— Suzanne DeFerie
President, Asheville Savings Bank

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