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Philanthropy A to Z

U – United Way

Text by Julie Craven Wagner

The United Way is an organization that benefits from name recognition—watch any season of the NFL, and it is impossible to miss heart-warming stories of professional athletes. However, the Cape and Islands’ chapter of the Untied Way distinguishes itself on a number of levels. Mark Skala, president and CEO of the organization that finds itself at the intersection of many of the charitable organizations across the region, offers what contributes to those differences. “We are different on a number of fronts,” Skala states. “The way we convene and mobilize all of these nonprofits so that we can focus on creating community-based and community-led solutions allows us to focus on the core of our mission: education, health, housing and financial stability.”

Perhaps one of the most unique elements of the organization is its collaborative approach to maximizing the impact of limited resources. Several years ago a shift in awarding support and funding to a rarely changing list of nonprofits was replaced with a grant process that awards funds to programs that leverage collaborative strengths, thereby serving greater numbers of those in need with more services.

Skala proudly states that 98% of the funds collected stay locally, and during this challenging year, the generosity was overwhelming early in the spring as the message to support resulted in tangible help for those in need.  “Our board had the foresight in 2019 to put a Community Response Fund in our budget,” he says. “No one knew that COVID was coming, but as a result we were uniquely positioned to respond quickly and effectively. In a very short window, we were able to raise more than $130,000 to address issues brought on by this pandemic.”

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