United Way of Salt Lake Priority Area and Capacity Assessment

The purpose of this assessment is to prioritize the specific needs, objectives, and strategies on which UWSL will focus its community impact work. UWSL contracted with Utah Foundation to conduct this assessment, which is a year-long project involving focus groups, surveys, data collection, research, and analysis.

During the first stage of the assessment, Utah Foundation held focus groups with UWSL’s Change Councils, main funders, and staff to determine and gain consensus about what the vision of change is for each of UWSL’s priority areas (income, education, health, safety-set services, and immigrant/refugee integration). The information from these focus groups were compiled into a survey, which was distributed to a larger audience of UWSL affiliates who were asked to rate the importance of each objective.

The second stage involved collecting baseline and trend data for each of the indicators measuring change and success in UWSL’s priority areas. Utah Foundation collected, graphed, and analyzed over 300 indicators for UWSL, which allowed for an initial prioritization of objectives according to need.

The third stage of the assessment was to identify underlying causes and barriers to individuals achieving each objective. Utah Foundation held focus groups with UWSL’s Change Councils to gain consensus about the underlying barriers. These barriers were then categorized into five or six main ideas and implemented into a survey distributed to UWSL affiliates. The purpose of the survey was to help UWSL understand the public’s perspectives in order to build community consensus as it transitions to a community impact United Way. Utah Foundation also reviewed academic literature on the underlying barriers for each objective.

The fourth stage was to examine UWSL’s external and internal capacity for change. Utah Foundation developed five surveys to be administered to UWSL Change Council members and other stakeholder groups. These surveys asked participants to assess UWSL’s organizational capacity to impact particular issues.

The fifth stage involved collecting the opinions and perspectives of populations most affected by economic and social challenges are represented in UWSL’s decision-making framework. These are the populations that use the services provided by UWSL partners and grantees and are most helped by UWSL’s advocacy efforts. In order to collect this information, Utah Foundation held six different focus groups; four at United Way Community Learning Centers located in Salt Lake and Davis Counties, one at the Utah State Prison, and one at the YWCA of Salt Lake. A one-page paper survey was also distributed to clients of UWSL partners and an online version of this survey was sent to AAA Fair Credit Foundation clients.

Finally, Utah Foundation developed a UWSL Donor Priority Survey to collect information from UWSL donors about which objectives they prefer to fund. Imagining they had $1,000 to invest in the areas of education, income, and health, participants were asked to select the one objective from each priority area they would choose for their investment. The information collected from these six stages was then organized into a decision-making framework, which allowed UWSL to prioritize the objectives on which it will focus its community impact work.

Read the findings:

Update: Read the final Community Assessment published by UWSL

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