Southwest Michigan, Van Buren County United Ways join forces

Published 9:32 am Monday, January 14, 2019

PAW PAW — United Way just became a little more united in Southwest Michigan.

Van Buren County United Way will immediately join forces with United Way of Southwest Michigan for back office operations, with a full merge effective July 1.  The consolidated organization will increase efficiencies, reduce duplications and build on the collective thought, according to officials.

Officials said this will give the two organizations a unique opportunity to strengthen the way United Way serves Southwest Michigan.

The work of a local United Way is an integral part of a larger network that seeks to advance the common good by creating opportunities for all, and engaging people and organizations from all across the community who bring passion, expertise and resources needed to get things done, said United Way representatives.  Regardless of geographic reach, money raised or number of donor relationships, United Way is being challenged to scale its impact.  Donors are asking for, not only results, but impactful results – “how was a person’s life changed with my contribution?”

Both Anna Murphy, CEO of UWSM, and Vera Sebree, Executive Director of VBCUW, and their respective boards, said they believe that a merger will not only lift brand recognition but also create greater capacity and provide more resources for the nonprofit community and residents of Van Buren County. 

“Both organizations are excited about this opportunity,” said Sebree. “By joining forces, we’re increasing the power of the community to support our nonprofits.”

While not all of the merge details are solidified, the money raised in Van Buren County for the 2018 campaign will be distributed in the VBCUW annual cycle, in April, to nonprofit organizations.  That new funding will begin July 1, 2019, and be effective for a two-year funding period. This will allow for alignment with the UWSM funding process. Currently, there are several funded organizations that receive funding from both United Ways. United Way will continue to rely on community volunteers to decide how the money raised will be allocated.

Sebree will be instrumental in creating a seamless transition for UWSM to raise funds in Van Buren County, representatives said. She will assist UWSM in creating campaign strategies and meeting with key stakeholders and will continue to serve out of the VBCUW Paw Paw-based office. 

“We will continue to honor donor intent — money raised in the Van Buren campaign will continue to serve local communities,” Murphy said.

Van Buren will join Berrien and Cass counties as those areas serviced under the UWSM name. Those with questions relating to the merger can contact Anna Murphy, CEO of United Way of Southwest Michigan at (269) 932-3458.