Wright County - Story Time

Wright County United Way

"We use data in many different ways. To understand the true needs of our county, data are important. When organizations apply to us, we need data to help us discern if the need they are working on is real. The data also show us what issues provide us with an opportunity."

Melissa Mulder
executive director

Submitted by Melissa Mulder, Executive Director

Describe the work of your organization

The Wright County United Way’s mission is to enhance and support the lives in our communities. Our four focus areas are food, shelter, health, and education. We are a fiduciary branch—we partner with 40 different organizations in our county to help raise funds for the good work they do. They can be the experts that they are and we go about raising the funds for their work.

How do you use data in your work?  

We use data in many different ways. To understand the true needs of our county, data are important. When organizations apply to us, we need data to help us discern if the need they are working on is real. The data also show us what issues provide us with an opportunity. What’s currently not being served?  Or, if we’re in a lane we are really good at, should we stay in that lane?

When we commit to working with an organization, we ask for outcomes. We utilize data to determine, “Did you do what you said you would do?” This is very important to our donors. They come to us with whatever passion they have for one of our focus areas, and it’s our responsibility to show that we are achieving outcomes.

We can’t survive without data.

How have you used Minnesota Compass in your work?

We collaborate with partners and, like many nonprofits, we are very under-resourced. Working with Minnesota Compass is like bringing in a partner. Otherwise it would have been me trying to find all the data from multiple sources. Minnesota Compass as a tool is a huge resource for us. It’s credible, reliable and timely.

How does Minnesota Compass add value to your organization's work in your county? 

For us it creates cause and effect for donors. We need donors to tackle particular issues. If we can come back a year later and show data from an external source that validates our outcomes, it’s very powerful.

Meals on Wheels