Tag Archives: United Way of the Midlands

Older, Wiser, Trustworthy

September 26, 2019 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

It is autumn, which, for many companies, means a flurry of white envelopes marked United Way of the Midlands. The organization’s yearly fundraising campaign includes over 700 organizations that range from large corporations to mom-and-pop stores.

Greg Vassios is the senior vice president of UWM. He is responsible for corporate relations and plays an integral part in the donation process.

United Way was the original multi-impact organization, that buzzword associated with organizations such as Omaha Community Foundation and several others. United Way started in 1887, when Frances Wisebart Jacobs and three clergymen came together to collect funds for 10 health and welfare agencies. The company still believes in contributing to those areas of charity, especially those helping to reduce poverty.

“Poverty is incredibly complex,” Vassios said. “There is a lot of moving parts and individual components that sometimes come together and to address issues around poverty is very complicated. The advantage United Way has is we collaborate with the community to really look at the overall impact of what’s going on.”

There are now many multi-impact organizations in the area: Omaha Community Foundation started in 1982, Sherwood Foundation started in 1999, Thrivinci started in 2016. The latest, SHARE Omaha, started this year. Still, UWM is one of the biggest nonprofits in the region.

The United Way remains relevant, and their campaign is one of the biggest fundraisers in the area. The 2018 campaign raised more than $19 million. Included in that number is $1 million that was added this spring from contributions to their Nebraska and Iowa flood relief fund.

“United Way’s focus on basic needs, student success, and financial self-sufficiency is moving the needle to support more than 100,000 people living in poverty,” said Mutual of Omaha Chairman and CEO James Blackledge, the chair of this year’s campaign with his wife. “Without question, this work is critical to the future of our community. Paula and I are proud to support their efforts and are grateful for the partner agencies that are making a real difference in the lives of our most vulnerable neighbors.”

The campaign kicked off the morning of Aug. 29 with a variety of activities. As part of the kickoff, the initiative #HatsOff4UnitedWay started that same morning. That initiative has a goal of $25,000. Mutual of Omaha, First National Bank of Nebraska, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska have pledged $1 back to United Way for every hashtag generated, up to $25,000.

The hashtag initiative is one of the ways United Way has modernized the campaign. Companies now have the ability to contribute online as well as via those white envelopes.

Like many modern multi-impact organizations, UWM has their own one-day initiative to increase awareness. On Sept. 20, they held their Day of Caring, the organization’s largest day of service, to focus on tackling projects that address community and nonprofit needs in several counties.

United Way of the Midlands is conscientious of their fiscal responsibility to the community. 92 cents of every dollar donated is put back into the community and programs to help those in need.

“Unfortunately, there is a lot of press out there about nonprofits who are maybe not as fiscally responsible as the donors would like them to be,” Vassios said. “But we pride ourselves on being very conscientious of the donors’ dollar.”

Across the United States, United Way of the Midlands is ranked seventh in campaign and operation performance, which is tied to their fiscal responsibility and community engagement.

“I love that our mission is about the community and about people,” Vassios said. “We get to make a difference in people’s lives and that’s what motivates me to come to work. I know at the end of the day, all the work I do is really about helping people in our community who are in need.”


Visit unitedwaymidlands.org for more information about campaign 2019.

This article was printed in the October 2019 edition of B2B. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Greg Vassios, senior vice president of United Way of the Midlands

Anne Hindrey’s Helping Hands

March 2, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The Nonprofit Association of the Midlands is a resource dedicated to helping the thousands of nonprofit entities scattered across Nebraska and western Iowa.

CEO Anne Hindrey stands at the helm of the organization that connects so many disparate nonprofits—from sports (Omaha Fencing Club) to social services (United Way of the Midlands). Roughly 330 total nonprofits hold a registered membership to NAM. Each works to serve the community in its own way.

Hindery’s job involves helping nonprofits navigate the often sticky world of public policy. It is a role she is well-qualified to assist with.

She started her career as the law enforcement coordination specialist with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Omaha.

“I wanted to change the world, but I realized that, in government, every four years someone changes the world back,” says Hindery, a Missouri native with a bachelor’s degree from Creighton University and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Her previous job in the Nebraska branch of the Department of Justice involved writing grant applications. Her grant-writing experience carried over to her next role as program director at the Omaha Community Foundation. She served on boards, and deepened her involvement in the community. She eventually joined NAM in 2008.

“I was on the board for five minutes,” Hindery says, half-jokingly. “I took someone’s place on the board in November, and they just had a staff change. Because NAM had a good staff policy in place, they needed someone on the board to step in. I said I could do it, and after a time, I was hired full-time.”

Hindery and her staff at NAM develop relationships with various nonprofits. They offer assistance with human resources, insurance, and legal needs; create partnerships between advocacy and public policy groups; and provide tools and training to members. NAM is also part of the National Council of Nonprofits, which keeps Hindery at the forefront of industry trends and changes in public policy.

“We find our membership in the Nonprofit Association of the Midlands very beneficial,” says Peg Harriott, CEO and president of the Child Saving Institute. “We use the annual salary and benefits report to make sure that our salaries are competitive in the market, and we participate in the health insurance trust to help moderate the cost of health insurance for our employees.”

CSI’s 150 employees benefit from NAM’s insurance trust, but Hindrey and her team make sure they offer services to small nonprofits as well as large ones.

Joining NAM is not free, however. According to the organization’s website, the cost to register ranges in eight tiers from $50 (for nonprofits with an annual budget less than $49,999) to $1,000 (for nonprofits with an annual budget greater than $10 million).

The Inclusive Life Center offers Christian rituals to people who may not belong to a church but want a minister for a wedding, baptism, or funeral. The center’s staff of one says he has greatly benefited from belonging to NAM.

Chaplain Royal D. Carleton says, “We work off of donations, and it helps us to be mindful that we have to be very transparent and good stewards of the funds that are bestowed on us.”

“I went to my first NAM conference [in 2016], which was ‘Who’s telling your story?’” Carleton says. “I learned more that day about marketing than I have in some ways in six years [of running Inclusive Life]. There were very strategic marketing insights that I did not know before.”

He also learned that his audience is wider than he originally thought.

“I’ve never marketed to those who are religious, because I figured they have a church they belong to,” Carleton says. “I had people stand up and say, ‘Listen, I’m Catholic, but I have friends who are not religious, and I need to know who you are so I can share that resource with my friends.’ That was a big eye opener for me.”

That connection to people, and other nonprofits, is one of the biggest resources that NAM offers.

“We encourage our members to not reinvent the wheel,” Hindery says. “In many cases, someone has gone through the same problem, and the solution is already available. You may want to tweak it, but it’s there.”

Visit nonprofitam.org for more information.

This article was printed in the March/April 2017 edition of Omaha Magazine.

The Big Give

September 6, 2016 by
Illustration by Kristen Hoffman

Omahans give. That is no secret. Just consider the amount generated by the Omaha Community Foundation’s fourth annual Omaha Gives campaign. The 24-hour funding drive amassed almost $9 million, a new record.

In each September/October issue, Omaha Magazine helps our readers determine where to spend their charitable donations through a special advertorial called The Big Give. Inside this section, you’ll find information on a variety of charities, including their mission statements, wish lists, event dates, and more. Click here to view the entire Big Give.

This year, The Big Give spotlights:

100 Black Men of Omaha

Abide

The ALS Association Mid-America Chapter

American Red Cross

Assistance League of Omaha

Autism Action Partnership

Ballet Nebraska

CASA for Douglas County

Children’s Scholarship Fund of Omaha

Completely Kids

CUES

Diabetes Education Center of the Midlands

Empowerment Network

Film Streams, Inc.

Food Bank for the Heartland

Gesu Housing, Inc.

Global Partners in Hope

Green Omaha Coalition

Heartland Family Service

The Hope Center for Kids

ICARE Youth Services, Inc.

The Jewish Federation of Omaha

The Kim Foundation

Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska

Nebraska Children’s Home Society

Nebraska Humane Society

The Nebraska Urban Indian Health Coalition

Ollie Webb Center, Inc.

Omaha Against Hunger

Omaha Children’s Museum

Omaha Home for Boys

Omaha Public Library Foundation

Open Door Mission

Outlook Nebraska, Inc.

Phoenix Academy

Project Harmony

Rejuvenating Women

Release Ministries, Inc.

The Salvation Army

Santa Monica House

Siena/Francis House Homeless Shelter

Together

United Way of the Midlands

Youth Emergency Services