Give Your Heart to United Way

Larry Stone Commentary

Give Your Heart to United Way

When it comes to philanthropic giving, the number of very real and legitimate causes has multiplied exponentially in recent years. For a donor, that means there are more choices than ever before. Just doing the research to understand which organizations are practicing responsible stewardship and having the greatest impact is hard work, and many are not willing to spend the time to “optimize” their gift. Enter the Heart of Arkansas United Way.

For the last 96 years, Heart of Arkansas United Way has served our community by leading initiatives and making investments in local programs that create meaningful, sustainable change in education, financial stability and health. These three key areas are the pillars of every thriving community, and Little Rock and our surrounding communities are no exception. This is why when the United Way asked Millie Ward and me to co-chair the 2019 United Way campaign, we enthusiastically agreed.

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I was first introduced to United Way in the 1970s when we executed several campaigns for the nonprofit. Then in the 1980s Stone Ward became the pro bono agency. For decades I’ve seen firsthand the impact United Way has had on our communities. It has been an integral part in creating awareness and funding for so many of the organizations that support our youth, our families and those in need.

As co-chair of the Heart of Arkansas United Way’s annual campaign, I’m asking fellow business leaders to encourage employees to make contributions so that the organization can continue to connect our neighbors in need to programs that can help. By creating new opportunities for underserved communities, companies and their employees have the power to drive change in the lives of those who otherwise might not have the resources or support to reach their full potential.

Millennial professionals, those younger than 35, are overwhelmingly aware of the importance of giving back and volunteering. This group is the largest generation in the workforce and, by next year, will make up 50% of the employees in the United States.

According to a study by Cone Communications, 83% of millennials said they would have more loyalty to a company that helped them contribute to social and environmental issues. That statistic resonated with me, not only because Stone Ward celebrates giving back as a way to build the community, but also because we trust United Way to assure that the donation we are giving is doing the most it can. Socially responsible, community-oriented companies often stand out from the competition and attract top-tier employees ready to make a difference. These are vital elements in achieving increased profitability and long-term financial success. And our region is blessed to have so many generous companies that are fine examples of purpose-driven companies.

The Heart of Arkansas United Way campaign is a unique way to mobilize the generosity and reach of business leaders, employees and volunteers in a collective effort to raise or exceed the community goal of $2.2 million. It is greater than any one single cause and supports a broad spectrum of local programs that fight for the health, education and financial stability of every person in our community. We heartily support this goal because we know that when we improve the individual lives of our people, strengthen low-income communities and improve financial literacy skills, this leads to a happier, healthier community, which in turn results in a healthier business climate.

Workplace giving is one of the safest, most cost-effective ways to support nonprofits. It gives your employees a way to conveniently give — as little or as much as they’d like — through a payroll deduction. If employees choose to participate in the company’s corporate giving campaign, they simply fill out the pledge card, designate the amount to be deducted and direct the gift to one or all of United Way’s focus areas. For those with a favorite cause, they can direct their gift to any nonprofit of their choosing. In addition, the United Way has many ways for company employees to volunteer, which is very appealing to the emerging workforce.

We hope business leaders will consider a Heart of Arkansas United Way campaign inside their companies. The United Way makes it easy to do. And so many benefit from your efforts. If you’re interested in creating your own corporate giving campaign, contact Lynn Pharr at

Larry Stone is the executive creative director at the Stone Ward marketing firm in Little Rock.

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