Doing Things Even More United In Michigan’s Great Southwest

In a world where economies of scale can pay handsome rewards and increase efficiencies and capacities, the world of United Way just became a little more United in Southwest Michigan.

Van Buren County United Way (VBCUW) will immediately join forces with United Way of Southwest Michigan (UWSM) for back office operations, with a full merge effective July 1, 2019. The consolidated organization will increase efficiencies, reduce duplications and build on the collective thought and give the two organizations a unique opportunity to strengthen the way United Way serves the larger community of Michigan's Great Southwest.

The work of a local United Way is an integral part of a larger network that advances the common good by creating opportunities for all, and engaging people and organizations from all across the community who bring passion, expertise and resources needed to get things done. Regardless of the geographic reach, the money raised or the number of donor relationships, United Ways are being challenged to scale the impact. Donors are asking for, not only results, but impactful results often asking, “How was a person’s life changed with my contribution?”

Both Anna Murphy, CEO of UWSM, and Vera Sebree, Executive Director of VBCUW, and their respective Boards, believe that a merger will not only lift brand recognition but also create greater capacity and provide more resources for the nonprofit community and residents of Van Buren County. Sebree says, “Both organizations are excited about this opportunity," adding, "By joining forces, we're increasing the power of the community to support our nonprofits.”

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While not all of the merger details are solidified, we do know that monies raised in Van Buren County for the 2018 campaign will be distributed in the VBCUW annual cycle in April, to nonprofit organizations. New funding will begin July 1, 2019 and be effective for a two-year funding period. That will allow for alignment with the United Way of Southwest Michigan funding process.

Currently, there are several funded organizations that receive funding from both United Ways, and United Way will continue to rely on community volunteers to decide how the money raised will be allocated.

Ms. Sebree will be instrumental in creating a seamless transition for UWSM to raise funds in Van Buren County. She will assist UWSM in creating campaign strategies and meeting with key stakeholders and will continue to serve out of the Van Buren County United Way's Paw Paw-based office.

Anna Murphy says, “We will continue to honor donor intent – money raised in the Van Buren campaign will continue to serve local communities.” Then, Van Buren will join Berrien and Cass counties as those areas that are serviced under the United Way of Southwest Michigan name.