United Way asked its digital agency of record DEG to help it provide transparency on the funds raised and distributed to local nonprofits.

In times of crisis, one of the few positives is the ways communities come together to overcome adversity. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit hard in Kansas City, one nonprofit helped its neighbors across the region come together to support one another in need.

Donations made in the digital age aren’t always seen as the safest way to support our communities. So, that same organization put together a team to shed some light on how it, and all of Kansas City, were responding to the crisis.

The challenge

United Way of Greater Kansas City serves as a catalyst—assembling service organizations, volunteers, and donors—for meaningful and lasting change in towns and cities across its six-county region. When the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020, the organization knew nonprofits in Kansas City would be in need, and it joined a coalition of organizations to create a fund to aid in the response and recovery of the community.

As the Kansas City Regional COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund began, United Way asked its digital agency of record DEG to help it provide transparency on the funds raised and distributed to local nonprofits. The challenges United Way and DEG faced were how to collect the data needed and how to present it in a way that everyone could understand.

The strategy

Historically, United Way hasn’t been able to provide granular details to donors about the funds it has helped raise for nonprofits in the Kansas City region. DEG interviewed United Way stakeholders to establish the requirements and desired goals of an analytics dashboard, like earn donor trust through transparency of the fund distribution and process.

Asking “What if anything is possible?” the agency crafted a plan to gather the data needed within the dashboard, including using U.S. Census data of poverty rate based on zip code to show the demand for funds throughout the region. DEG also wanted to make the dashboard interactive and easily updated with new data sets and visualizations as the fund moved from the response phase to the recovery phase.

United Way of Greater Kansas City and DEG launched the interactive COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund dashboard on the organization’s website in late 2020, providing transparency to the donor base and Kansas City community.

The solution

United Way and DEG were already leveraging Salesforce’s Tableau platform and with its flexibility in updating data sets and visualization capabilities, it was a natural fit for this dashboard. Plus, Tableau’s embedding feature within a web page is free, easy, and straightforward.

DEG initially mocked up the dashboard for United Way’s stakeholders, leveraging its UX design team to showcase the page layout and types of visualizations that would be most effective in communicating the data in a way most people could interpret easily. Once the design was approved, the agency’s analytics team began crafting the visualizations within Tableau and collaborating with United Way’s website specialist to set up the wireframes and documentation.

For the Tableau visualizations, DEG crafted interactive features to spark curiosity and provide a better understanding of the fund distribution. For example, the geographic distribution of funds map showcases the Greater Kansas City area with zip codes outlined for viewers to select and see the percentage of the population in poverty. It also allows viewers to select a category of nonprofit organization services to see details and grant distribution throughout the zip codes displayed on the map.

The outcome

United Way of Greater Kansas City and DEG launched the interactive COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund dashboard on the organization’s website in late 2020, providing transparency to the donor base and Kansas City community. Since the fund launched earlier in the year, United Way received $93M worth of requests from organizations seeking support and has collected $17.4M in donations, distributing grants across the six-county region.

“Donors always want to know how their contributions are being used, but especially when looking at an event as large as the COVID-19 pandemic that impacted every one of us, consistent transparency and data are key to maintaining momentum and enthusiasm with our donors,” said Mike Goff, Chief Marketing and Philanthropy Officer at United Way of Greater Kansas City. “Our collaboration with DEG really brought the work we were doing to life in a way that was both easy to understand and appealing.”

With this new dashboard, United Way can promote and generate awareness about the fund, while continuing to collect donations and update it with the latest data showing how Kansas City takes care of its own.

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