The real work of United Way-Seeing is Believing

“I was shocked to discover how many people are falling through the cracks…you just assume there’s a system in place for everyone”- Seeing is Believing participant, October 2017


It’s a question we hear quite often.  “How does United Way work?”

And we are more than happy to answer it.   Over the years we have found it to be very helpful to host “Seeing is Believing” tours.

These tours allow you to see, up close, the “on the ground” efforts underway to create a community where poverty has no power.

You’ll have the opportunity to speak with some of our agency partners on the work they do, and how their connection with United Way Waterloo Region Communities makes a real difference.    As well, you’ll be learning alongside other people, who are every bit as intrigued about how they can help the 1 in 10 people in our region who live beneath the low income threshold.

We run Seeing is Believing tours at all times of the year, and we would love to have you join us.   Our events are usually scheduled from 6 to 7:30 PM –a light dinner will be provided.

We’re working on a new schedule of Seeing is Believing tours.    We’ll have that out to you as soon as possible.


10 Reasons to support United Way this season

The period from Mid November through the end of the year is sometimes called “The Giving Season”

A recent survey by Imagine Canada indicates more than 60 per cent of people want to make a donation during this time of year.  

For many of us, giving now can be a powerful lesson for our kids….appreciating how fortunate they are, and sharing that good fortune with someone who perhaps does not have the same advantages.

There are a great many important and compelling causes.  We encourage you to support whichever organization speaks to your heart or is making the difference you want to see .

We would like you to consider United Way Waterloo Region Communities.

  1. Experience: For more than 75 years United Way has been helping the most vulnerable people in our communities.   Beginning with aiding soldier’s families in 1941, to today, where we touch every corner of the region, United Way has the partnerships, vision and expertise to give your donation its greatest impact.
  2. Collaboration:   Your donations work through the best and most passionate of the nonprofit organizations in our region. Listening to each of them, we can support programs and initiatives providing the help people need, when they most need it.
  3. We love where we live: Your donation stays in Waterloo Region funding programs at more than 40 agencies. Approximately 80 per cent of each dollar is distributed to help people right here.
  4. Transparency and Accountability:   We are registered with Canada Revenue Agency as a charitable organization, and subject to all their rules and regulations.   Our financial reports are available online and our office is just a phone call away.
  5. Big. But Focused:   We are the largest funder of social service programs outside of government. Nationally, United Way invests hundreds of  millions of dollars annually. Here at home, we are right in your backyard, funding programs such as Neighbourhood Matching Grants, which provides dollars to local residents trying to make a difference on their own street.
  6. Efficiency:   We work across a broad spectrum, raising funds for our partners, while taking part in discussions on how, and what to deliver in the way of programs. It’s an interconnected web of support providing real value
  7. Advocacy: United Way is a key partner in the recently released National Housing Strategy, and locally, we are part of big issue discussions ranging from Living Wage Waterloo Region, to the Children and Youth Planning Table, the Immigration Partnership, and Wellbeing Waterloo Region.
  8. This is Us:   1 in 10 people in Waterloo Region live in poverty.   They could be your friends, family or co-workers.   You know them. You just don’t know.
  9. We’re not looking for quick fixes: We are working for solutions. That’s why we reach out to government officials, agencies and more. That’s why we research, and apply what we learn to problems right here.
  10. Together, we are possibility:   No one organization can tackle our social issues alone. We know people in vulnerable situations often access multiple sources for help. We call it a “network of support” and that’s what your donations are building.

 Please consider supporting United Way Waterloo Region Communities.

Love where you live.  Give where you live

Your part in ending homelessness and poverty.

It covers 10 years, and will invest some 40 billion dollars, but the work is just beginning for the National Housing Strategy announced by the Federal government.

United Way Centraide Canada played a lead role in consultations on this strategy, backed up by the dozens of United Way agencies across the country, including United Way Waterloo Region communities.

Is there a more important building block for our lives, than a stable and safe place to live?

You might think the housing issue is embodied in the homeless people many of us have witnessed.

About 250 thousand people in Canada were listed as homeless in 2016, according to Canada Without Poverty.    But an estimated 3 million people are “precariously housed”—in simple terms…living in below standard, unaffordable, or overcrowded conditions.

Much closer to home. Waterloo Region is in many ways, ahead of the curve on the housing issue, but still, demand for affordable housing far exceeds the supply, meaning about three thousand people are on a waiting list.

A lot of money is to be invested by the federal government, the provinces and municipalities, and sometimes the political will to do that can be weakened.  But there is lots of evidence to support the belief stabilizing housing situations will reduce much of the spending being done on social issues.

Over the coming weeks, months, and indeed, years, United Way will be continuing to work  and advocate for the achievement of the goals stated in the National Housing Strategy.

What can you do?     Learn more about the National Housing Strategy, and the impact it could have.  Get involved….there are many groups in our region working on social issues, including United Way Waterloo Region Communities.    And advocate.  Like almost anything, if we want the people in our community to be stronger, and more self reliant, we have to work together.



Mind Your Memes: Research in the Giving Season.


“People should never be paid if they work for a non profit”

“You’re paying your people too much”

“None of your donations go where you say ”

We are full bore into the holiday season, which now appears to start on November 12th.

As we all know, this time of year is crucial for retailers of all types, and the it’s the same story for many charities.

Many smaller charities gather a significant amount of their support from now until the end of the year. 

And this time also heralds the arrival of internet memes about charity, fund raising, et cetera.

The one to your left has been circulating recently, and there are others which carry a very similar message.

United Way is the largest funder of social services outside of government, and as a non profit—-we get it.

You do have legitimate concerns about where, and how your donation is spent, no matter who is receiving it.

And you should do your research.   But memes like this one….aren’t research.   This particular  example is  full of inaccuracies ..and outright lies.

It claims to be from Snopes, a well known fact checking website. (Spoiler alert–It’s not)

This is a report  from Snopes on a similar meme. 

On a wider scale, here’s a link to an article from Imagine Canada —an organization which builds bridges between charities, and the private sector—about the issue of paid employees in the non profit sector

There are more than 86 thousand registered non-profits in Canada, and, quite honestly, with that number, there will always be some bad apples.   The Canada Revenue Agency has an online tool which allows you to search out any organizations registered with them, and their status.

At the end of the day, your donation is about YOU and the causes in which you believe.   False memes are only hurting the thousands of legitimate charities who are working every day to make lives better.   Sharing them—even if you add a note such as  “I don’t know how much of this is true…but”  isn’t doing anyone a favour.

Next week is Giving Tuesday, and hundreds of good organizations in our region will be looking for your support.    We hope you will stay generous.

If you have questions about the work of United Way Waterloo Region Communities, feel free to contact us by telephone or email.  We’ll be happy to talk.





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GenNext Year End Celebration

Are you looking to invest your passion in our community?   And meet some interesting people along the way?

We invite you to our final GenNext event of 2017, where we will celebrate the great work which has been done, and welcome new participants who want to come on board.

GenNext WRC is a group for young professionals who truly want to make a difference.  Over the past year or so it has examined many different issues, ranging from the gentrification of downtown, and the impact it has on inviduals, to the growing concern of financial literacy.


Join us for our final GenNext event of the year where we will celebrate the past year, and look ahead to 2018 with some new friends.

You will have the chance to meet folks from across the Region that have been helping to change the power of poverty.There is a limited number of $10 tickets available; get yours before they are sold out! Register now.

National Philanthropy Day November 15

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, philanthropy is defined as “good will to fellow members of the human race; especially :active effort to promote human welfare”

But these days, most of us probably tie the word to a monetary donation. And there might even be a significant number of people who use the word only to describe those people at the very highest level of giving.

But that’s not what it’s all about


Five years ago, Canada became the first country to permanently recognize November 15th as National Philanthropy Day.

It’s mean to encourage giving at all levels, and not only on a monetary basis.  Giving of your time, skills and energy has a great deal of value to every non-profit organization, and your passion will likely inspire others!    Don’t be shy…..spreading the word about your good work is always a great idea.

As we head toward the holiday season, you’ll hear a lot more about giving, and about the many needs which our communities have.    While you’re considering who to support, here’s some good information on how to make your donations work to your own benefit.

Sadly, of course, there are too many people who will take advantage of your kindness through charity scams.     It’s a concern or us as well, because it appears more and more people translate their concern about fraud, into a smaller level of giving to legitimate organization

Here are a few things to think about as you consider donating

  1.  Charity scams are often quite common after large scale disasters.  The aftermath of the Fort McMurray wildfires offer some examples     It’s easy to get swept up in the emotion.  Make sure you do your homework   Canada Revenue offers a convenient search tool to find out if a charity is registered
  2. Both door to door, and online scams are common.   And they can often come with a significant amount of pressure.   If you’re feeling that, walk away.   You’re making an investment in what you hope to be a good cause.   And you need to feel comfortable.
  3. Legitimate charitable organizations will always be willing to share their information for you.   Transparency is important.   For example on our website, you’ll find names and information of all the people who oversee what we do in the community.


We’d love to have you support National Philanthropy Day.


Forever Fund Deadline Extended!

We’re giving you some extra time to come up with a great idea.   The deadline to apply for Forever Fund grants has been extended to December 22nd.

Grants are generated by an  endowment fund, and used to support programs and initiatives right here in Waterloo Region.

We’re focusing on investments which “change the power of poverty” in very specific ways.

Grants are available in two areas.

  • 1) Mental health supports for families and children
  • 2) Innovative ideas for seniors at risk

Here are some examples of past grant recipients.

In 2016 Supportive Housing of Waterloo received a grant for it’s Community Hoarding Maintenance program.   While many of us might be aware of hoarding from some TV productions, it’s a serious concern.  And poses some difficulties for the elderly, and their caregivers.

And we think you probably didn’t know Supportive Housing of Waterloo was involved in the issue.

In 2015, Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region received support for its “Partnering with a new Lens” project.    You can read all about that program right here

They are just two examples of the work going on with many of our United Way WRC Partners.   As we say, many of these problems are complex, and require the work of several agencies to make a real difference.

Applying for a Forever Fund Grant is a simple process.

Tell our staff  about your ideas or initiative at

Once we have had a look, and run that through our filters, we’ll be in contact with additional criteria, and a link to our online application portal.

Applications are due by Friday December 22nd

If you have any questions contact us at the email above!


One-on-One. It can all start with you

As far as I know, each of us is given one life to live. How we choose to write our life story is entirely up to us. Have you thought about what legacy you want to leave behind? Or what kind of impact you would like to have on the people that cross your path on this journey? Some might think that in this ocean of humanity, what impact can one person make? Let me tell you a story that a staff member at a downtown youth drop-in center told me a few years ago.

One evening a young man came in right after the center opened. It was unusual for that young man. When the counselor asked him why he was so early that night, he shrugged his shoulders and mumbled something to the effect that he just did not want to miss any of his friends. The staff member asked if it was alright to sit with him while he waited. The teen did not seem to care, so he sat down with him. Conversation was all one-sided. The teen didn’t really want to engage at all. After 20 minutes or so, the teen was starting to open up when the topic of his favorite sport – hockey, came up. As the conversation continued, the counselor found out that the teen had just ran away from home after a huge fight with his mother and that was not the first time. He was disgusted with life and felt the need to get away from it all. The counselor spent the next two hours with this boy and showed him the love and kindness that a caring adult could provide. At the end of that long chat, the young man agreed to go back home and try some of the advice that the counselor had given him to improve the relationship with his mother. The counselor never saw that young men again until a few years later when they ran into each other at the mall. The young man was doing great, graduated from high school, got a job and was now living on his own. Then he said he had a confession to make. He told the counselor the reason he was there that evening at the drop-in center, was to say goodbye to his friends. He had made up his mind that he was going to take his life that evening. But that conversation with the counselor touched his heart and changed his mind. He found there was at least one person that cared about his well-being.

How amazing is that! Not all of us will become the prime minister or have some significant invention that saves the world. But all of us have the ability to make a positive impact in someone’s life. Whether it is a kind word spoken or a random act of kindness or delivering a much-needed food basket. No matter how small you think it might be, you may never know how big an impact you have just made on the other person’s life if you make the effort.

Do you feel like you want to do something but just don’t know where to start? United Way is just the place for you. Thousands of volunteers across this country of ours do whatever they are able to help make their communities a better place for their fellow citizens, one good deed at a time. This is the power of United Way! When a group of like-minded individuals, working together, are driven by an unquenchable passion and a compelling vision, they can start a movement. When the movement gathers momentum, we start a revolution! Here at United Way, we are starting a revolution! Together, we will change the power of poverty! Come join us in this revolution and make a difference in your community.