United Way wants your thoughts

By: Aldo Santin

Winnipeg Free Press, Thursday February 28, 2008
Reproduced with permission.

The United Way of Winnipeg has begun a long-term consultation project to learn what Winnipeggers are thinking.

Dubbed Urban Exchange, the initiative will use surveys and other means to present snapshots of the city’s mindset.

“We wanted to have a way to stay engaged with people on an ongoing basis,” Pat Harper, the United Way’s director of strategic management services, said, adding the findings will be used to help the United Way determine what programs it should be funding.

The first Urban Exchange report, Urban Reflections, was released today in a colourful 38-page report.

Harper said the report’s findings were culled from the opinions of about 2,900 Winnipeggers who participated in a survey. The participants, identified as panelists, were picked from those people who participated in a similar project — Journey Forward .

Harper said that Winnipeggers had to say about their city through the Journey Forward project made officials at United Way realize that they should duplicate that project on a permanent basis.

The report presents participants feelings on 19 major issues of the day, ranking them and asking if the city is making any progress in resolving them. The report also asks participants how they rate the city and what they consider to be the best features of Winnipeg.

Today’s release is an interim report, Harper said, adding the United Way hopes that others will go on-line at http://www.mycitymysay.ca/, e-mail UrbanExchange[at]UnitedWayWinnipeg.mb.ca, or call 477-5360 to fill out the survey making the findings more comprehensive and more reflective of the community.

Since the initial data was analyzed and compiled, Harper said about 500 more people have joined the project and she said the United Way hopes others will continue to join the project.

Harper said a professional researcher, at a cost of about $40,000, was employed to devise the survey and to analyse its findings.

Harper said she believes the first survey will accept participants for another three months.

Meanwhile, she said that the United Way is preparing another survey. Harper said it’s expected that the United Way will conduct such community surveys two or three times a year.