Q&A with United Way President and CEO Michael McKnight

United Way president and CEO Michael McKnight provides insight on the work his organization does in the community

What is the United Way of the Lower Mainland?
The United Way has been around for more than 80 years supporting those in need in Metro Vancouver. We work with more than 150 agencies, but more than just investing money, we do research and advocacy, we are involved in public policy development and we connect people and organizations that are able to create change. So it’s not just giving grants, but being an architect for change.
What areas do you focus on?
We focus on programs that support early childhood development and specifically school readiness; programs that promote the health and happiness of children from ages 6 to 12; and lastly, programs that help seniors continue to live healthy and fulfilling lives in their own homes. We are dedicated to creating healthy, caring and inclusive communities.
Why give to the United Way instead of directly to a service organization?
We want to make sure that the organizations that provide the services are working collaboratively. For example, in our Better at Home program, the actual services are provided by existing senior services organizations, but we’ve brought them together, making sure there’s a standard of service based on the best research on the issues that seniors face. For our donors, it’s the coordinated community action and response that offers the best value.
What is the role of workplace campaigns?
About 80 per cent of our funds come from workplace campaigns. We have about 775 different employers who raise almost $30 million annually, and 4,000 volunteers. That’s what helps us not only raise the money but keep the cost of fundraising to a very low rate of about 14 cents on the dollar. We owe so much gratitude to the people of this community who give to the United Way and to the volunteers who give back.
Thinking about getting your company involved this year? Click here to know more about United Way of the Lower Mainland’s 2013 campaign.