August 30, 2023
By: Kelly Batson, UWBA Chief Community Impact Officer
At United Way Bay Area (UWBA), our hopes and dreams to break the cycle of poverty in our communities are big, but our resources and capacity are never quite what we wish they were. We know this is true not only for ourselves, but also for our nonprofit neighbors in the eight counties we serve across the Bay Area.
We have seen studies in the past about these disparities. The study published by Applied Survey Research (ASR) and First 5 Solano County in 2016 about the inequitable funding for Solano County is one example. An update to that was also published in 2018.
So, when we wanted to understand where the high-need areas are, in terms of poverty, for the Bay Area and overlay that with philanthropic giving data, we knew just where to start – our friends at ASR. Because we are focused on fighting poverty across the Bay Area, we needed to know – do community needs line up with the distribution of philanthropic giving? With this information, we can maximize the resources we do have. By “we,” I mean all of us.
Over the last year, we worked with ASR to analyze poverty, unemployment, and housing burden data, as well as foundation giving data from 2018 – 2020 to focus on those zip codes that have been left out of equitable resources as part of our Understanding Poverty and Philanthropic Giving Disparities report. Here’s what we found:
I started at the United Way of the Bay Area (yes, we used to have that “of the”) in 2006 as a Program Associate for our Free Tax Help program (formerly known as Earn It! Keep It! Save It!). It was early in my nonprofit career, but it didn’t take me long to figure out that we work in a world of limited resources.
This is why, today, I’m most excited about is the opportunity to take action as an organization, to examine our programs and initiatives, and to ensure we are reaching those most in need with those limited resources. We are also extremely excited to share this report with the community at large, including, but not limited to, the philanthropic giving community.
We have included 10 opportunities for action at the end of the report. SPOILER ALERT – Two of those opportunities include:
We need to grow the whole pie, not withdraw investments from one county to give to another. Something tells me there is more than enough to go around.
We know that the inequities in giving and the inequities in communities are linked, and it is going to take all of us to shift towards an equitable Bay Area where everyone has the resources and opportunities they need to thrive. It’s time to act…differently!
We hope you will check out the full report here. When you’re done, jump over to our donation page to help us ensure resources are available for all Bay Area communities.
2. The distribution of funds by geography represents the location of organizations receiving funds, not necessarily the reach of those organizations to serve a broader community.