The Journey Continues: Announcing United Way Impact Funds

Last fall, United Way of Central Indiana announced a new strategic framework to guide our work and redefine our commitment to fight for the education, financial stability, health and basic needs of every person in the community. We promised to double down on this mission by creating new initiatives that support vulnerable individuals, move families toward self-sufficiency, create innovative solutions to break the cycle of generational poverty in our region, and connect more donors to the causes they care most deeply about.


Today, we have kept that promise.


After months of research, analysis and conversations with agencies, other community partners, donors and volunteers, we are pleased to unveil three new Impact Funds at United Way:  the Basic Needs Fund, the Family Opportunity Fund, and the Social Innovation Fund. These three funds will replace our Community Fund and are designed to improve outcomes at a community level, link the interests and passions of our donors to opportunities to improve the lives of tens of thousands of families in Central Indiana who are struggling to make ends meet and have little hope for a brighter future.


What does this mean to you? It means that you will have the ability to connect your donations, volunteer activities and advocacy to the people you are most interested in helping.


Basic Needs Fund. Serving our citizen’s basic needs is about survival and stability. We’re proud of our deeply rooted history of raising and directing contributions from generous community members, like you, to support the safety net that people in our community who are hungry, sick, vulnerable, or in crisis count on. Through the Basic Needs Fund, we remain committed to partnering with community-based organizations that provide healthy food, housing assistance, transportation and healthcare services to members of our community who need them to survive right now.  If you care about sheltering homeless families, feeding hungry children, getting isolated seniors to their doctor’s appointments and connecting those suffering from mental illness with emergency counseling, the Basic Needs Fund is the place for you.


Family Opportunity Fund. Serving struggling families in Central Indiana so they can achieve a better, more secure future on their own is critical to their and our community’s future. The number of struggling households in Central Indiana has grown significantly over the last decade – now amounting to more than 237,000.  That number is astonishing and is growing in every part of our six-county service territory.  Surprisingly, more than half of these households are inhabited by families with jobs but who are still struggling meet all their basic needs at once. All members of these families, adults and children, feel the hardships together – at the same time, under the same roof – and are making impossible choices that compromise their health, safety and financial stability, just to make ends meet. These families don’t just need support with basic needs – they need opportunities to improve and control their futures. That’s where the Family Opportunity Fund comes in. By working with, building capacity for and connecting community-based organizations that can serve an entire family’s needs in areas such as education, youth development, employment assistance, financial coaching, and mental, physical and emotional health, we can attack the devastating trends of generational poverty and financial instability and help these families find a brighter future in which they control their own destinies. If you care about ensuring that families have the ability not just to survive, but to thrive, the Family Opportunity may be of interest to you.


Social Innovation Fund. The human services sector is mature.  Although there are many dedicated professionals and respected organizations providing services, the demands always exceed the supply of services, and that gap is growing.  In order to ensure that the best ideas for improving the effectiveness and efficiency of basic needs and family opportunity-related services provided are quickly proven and scaled,  the Social Innovation Fund will bring innovators to the table, invest in new ideas, test new approaches, and fund new projects that can deliver a measurable, direct impact on our community at a faster pace. To attack poverty at its core, the time is now to be bold in our thinking, in our strategy, in our collaborations, and in our solutions. If you are creative and believe that we can do better, the Social Innovation Fund is the place for you.

These funds will replace United Way’s Community Fund that used to be a single repository for funds raised in our community. Now, you will be able to direct your donations to the causes that speak most to you.  Of course, if you want us to direct them based on our knowledge of community needs, you can continue to contribute to the area of greatest impact – we can assure you that we will deploy them well.


The Basic Needs, Family Opportunity, and Social Innovation funds are now ready for your support. Over the next few weeks and months, we will invite community-based organizations – vetted and accredited by United Way – to request funding to support services, programs and projects related to each of the funds and report the outcomes of this work on an ongoing basis.


Three funds.  Endless impact.  We’re excited for this next chapter of United Way’s history. Thank you for staying with us on this journey, for raising your hand for our Central Indiana community, and for committing to Live United.


Ann Murtlow
President & CEO
United Way of Central Indiana