United Way GWD Annual Report brings Focus to Root Causes and the SDGs

Throughout 2022, United Way Guelph Wellington Dufferin looked to bring a sense of urgency to address the root causes of some of the most pressing issues in our communities and region. 

Working at the intersection of community issues, United Way provides resources, leadership and convenes support from all sectors of the community. Their approach also recognizes that issues are often best addressed by those closest to them and empowers individuals and communities to create a better future for all.  

Working with the SDGs 

United Way staff members Colleen Murdoch and Emilie Mossman participated in the SDG Cities Academy in early 2022. After an introduction to the SDGs, Colleen and Emilie took the step of connecting relevant goals to key communications about their funding streams. 

After we completed the SDG course last summer, I went through the priorities of our funding streams and identified the SDGs that best matched.  We then started including them on various communications materials to help to illustrate the impact we are making both locally and globally.

Colleen Murdoch, Community Engagement & Impact Director

Their interest in working with the SDGs came both from within the organization and from funders and donors. Internally, staff began to see clear connections between the globally oriented SDGs and the local work of United Way. With a clear focus on local issues, United Way is working to address interconnected and complex challenges like poverty, food security and mental health. Though global in nature, the SDGs similarly work to shine a light on the complexity and interconnectedness of the challenges we face – and call for urgent action across sectors. In their 2022 Year in Review report United Way GWD connects key areas of focus to the SDGs 

A few of our corporate donors really liked seeing [the SDGs] connected to our funding streams, as they helped to align our partnership with their corporate social priorities. One actually asked us before they saw the report if we could tell them which SDGs aligned to our work, so it was great to be one step ahead!

Colleen Murdoch, Community Engagement & Impact Director

A Community Impact Strategy Aligned to the SDGs

United Way’s 5 focus areas of their Community Impact Strategy are closely aligned with the SDGs. The work is radically local and builds on existing and emerging partnerships and community strengths to solve local problems. 

For example, From Poverty to Possibility supports community members struggling to access basic needs and build a good life. In 2022, this funding stream supported access to nutritious and culturally appropriate foods, supportive housing and critical resources for youth and families. Through a network of partners, All That Kids Can Be provides focused support and resources with wrap-around support for children and youth to build protective factors and mitigate the effects of adversity.

Healthy People, Thriving Communities focused on addressing rising mental health challenges and the impacts of social isolation. This area of focus and resource investments ensures that individual and community health is understood and supported. A focus on Rural Communities brings attention and support to the unique challenges facing rural communities across the region, including a lack of transportation, stable internet, high cost of goods, isolation and low sense of belonging. This focus area helps ensure that rural livelihoods and communities can thrive.

Equity Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) recognizes that marginalized communities face disproportionate negative impacts due to systemic factors and inequality. The EDI lens is applied across United Way’s focus areas to ensure that the experiences of marginalized communities are seen and addressed.  

Realizing the SDGs by 2030 will require a collective effort. With collaboration at the heart, United Way is taking action co-creating, leading and supporting place-based solutions solutions through community investment and empowerment. Going forward United Way plans to continue to use the SDGs in communications with the community and donors. 

Learn more about the impact of United Way’s work in the 2022 Year in Review Report.