Tocqueville Society
Talking Points & FAQs

Metro United Way Talking Points

  • For more than 100 years, Metro United Way (MUW) has been in our community improving lives and creating change.
  • While there has been some incredible work and thousands of lives impacted over the years, change hasn’t happened fast enough.
  • That’s why MUW made a commitment to accelerate its impact by examining the Greater Louisville region’s most persistent challenges and support those most affected by them to accelerate change.
  • This year, MUW is completing a 3-year transition from a historical community chest model collecting donations through workplace campaigns and redistributing them to area nonprofits, to a newly implemented impact model where MUW strategically and proactively seeks to change the social determinants of education, economic mobility and health in our region.
  • This is being done through bringing together powerful solutions to address root causes of systemic issues and ensure positive, sustainable change; increasing MUW’s individual major donor base, foundation support, and public grants; diversifying fundraising channels; and also bolstering long-term sustainability by growing the endowment.
  • The result is closing of the education and wealth gaps that have persisted and creating a stronger and more equitable community that competes with peer cities. Louisville currently ranks 5th in the country in concentrated poverty and ranks near the bottom of 17 peer cities when it comes to education, racial equity, health outcomes, and median earnings. More data:

Tocqueville Society Talking Points

  • The Metro United Way Tocqueville Society is a membership of approximately 600 individuals in the Greater Louisville region who embody the highest levels of generosity, leadership and philanthropy.
  • When you look at the accomplishments of our membership – leaders like Kent Oyler, Audwin Helton, Phoebe Wood, Henry Heuser to name a few – we uniquely know the importance of a strong community and in order to achieve and leverage impact, we need to be more strategic and proactive in addressing systemic challenges rooted in multiple causes.
  • Tocqueville Society members are a group of investors creating change and setting an example for others to follow. When you integrate our members’ experiences, abilities and ambitions, the result is a sphere of influence able to transform our community and help more people stand on their own two feet.
  • Making up almost 25% of Metro United Way’s annual fundraising, the Tocqueville Society is responsible for a lot of positive community change in our seven-county region. We know dollars we raise aren’t just a number. They represent the fuel for our family, friends and neighbors to the Tocqueville Society.  ​
  • We also know that the measure of a community’s success doesn’t lie in those who already have opportunities to thrive, but in those still fighting for them. This past year the Tocqueville Society dollars supported many innovative initiatives of Metro United Way helping to ensure our community’s kids are succeeding in school and life, parents have high-quality childcare so they can be in the workforce, and affordable housing and homeownership are not just a dream for some.
  • For detailed impact numbers, visit for up-to-date data.
  • Since its establishment locally in 1990, Metro United Way’s Tocqueville Society members have invested over $100 million representing the generosity of over 300 families throughout our region.
  • Join us in helping to improve lives and our community, by becoming a member of the Tocqueville Society today.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the mission and vision of Metro United Way? 

Mission: To improve lives and our community by engaging people to give, advocate, and volunteer.

Vision: A community whose people achieve their full potential through education, financial independence and health.


What does Metro United Way do? 

Because systemic community challenges are most often rooted in multiple causes, Metro United Way harnesses the power of donors, volunteers, thought leaders, experts, other nonprofits and government at all levels to ensure positive, sustainable change. We’re the change agent that fuels our spirit of unity by building lasting, transformative opportunities for all.

We unite and empower communities in our seven-county region by advancing equity and sharing opportunities for all.


What is the Metro United Way Tocqueville Society? 

The Tocqueville Society is a United Way Worldwide network of philanthropic leaders who, through generous gifts, demonstrate their commitment to tackling our community’s most pressing needs to create sustainable change. It is named after the 19th-century French political thinker and historian Alexis de Tocqueville who, in his writings, recognized the importance of voluntary action on behalf of the common good. Tocqueville Society membership is open to individuals or couples who donate $10,000 or more annually to Metro United Way.


What are the benefits of becoming a member of the Tocqueville Society? 

  • Exclusive invitations to Tocqueville Tuesday luncheons, opportunities to engage with nationally-known speakers from MUW events
  • Networking and connecting with like-minded philanthropic leaders
  • Participation in the Global Network of the Tocqueville Society through United Way Worldwide
  • Exclusive volunteer opportunities
  • Being part of the solution in creating a stronger, more equitable community


What types of events do you offer to members? 

  • Tocqueville Tuesday: Quarterly event featuring local, regional, and national speakers. Offers members and potential members opportunities to network and connect with other members.
  • Women of Tocqueville Signature Events: annual holiday party with volunteer opportunities, Women of Influence Honors community event that celebrates women in philanthropy
  • Emerging Tocqueville Signature Events: annual holiday volunteer project that contributes to immediate needs, spring social that allows members and friends to network
  • Exclusive Opportunities: Beyond Buzzwords Speaker Series Extended Q&A – opportunity for members to engage with speakers following organizational events, and other specific opportunities within our community.


What opportunities are available to get engaged as a volunteer? 

The Tocqueville Society offers 2-3 opportunities every year for members to engage in the work of MUW. In addition, Tocqueville members can serve on one of three committees: Tocqueville Advisory Board, Women of Tocqueville Steering Committee, and Emerging Tocqueville Leadership Committee. As a member you also have access to all MUW organizational events such as Beyond Buzzwords, Racial Wealth Gap Simulations, Mayor’s Give a Day, Day of Action, and The Greatest Give Back.


How does my Tocqueville gift make an impact? 

Tocqueville Society members make up less than 1% of the total number of donors to MUW but are responsible for more than 25% of the organization’s annual fundraising. These dollars are directly linked to MUW’s ability to lift up our neighbors from our community’s most complex challenges.


What is the value of being a member of the Tocqueville Society? 

Being a Tocqueville member will mean different things to different donors, but most of our members choose to give generously at this level because we believe that MUW is convening partners to close the persistent wealth and education gaps in our community while connecting individuals to resources to provide for their basic needs. In addition to giving, being a member of the Tocqueville Society allows the opportunity to join conversations on how investments are impacting children and families in our community, allowing members to see dollars in action.


What is Metro United Way’s Investment Redesign?

MUW has moved away from a “historical funding model” to one of transformational impact to accelerate needed change in our community. We called this 3-year plan our “investment redesign.” It entailed an exhaustive process to identify our communities’ most pressing needs so that we can help solve them. During this extensive qualitative and quantitative analyses, we listened to voices of multiple stakeholders across our seven-county region and poured into the results of numerous studies that have been conducted to assess how our community fares across many measures of success.

From this, the message was clear – a great majority of our community’s residents have not experienced the same levels of educational and wealth opportunities and achievement, dramatically impeding their ability to thrive. In short, this process moves us from investing in nonprofits to investing in issues – especially around closing the education and wealth gaps that exist and were exacerbated by the pandemic.

As we continue to shift to focusing on our community’s most pressing needs and the root causes of them, we recognize there is still immediate need in our seven-county region. We also implemented a health and basic needs strategy to address these urgent needs, in addition to strategies around educational success and wealth attainment.



What does this new impact model mean for historical funding or partnerships? 

We used to make investments in nonprofits rooted in a historic model that didn’t drive transformational outcomes. Today, we are a change organization and have a strategic plan to address key drivers of inequities and invest where the need is the greatest to address systemic community challenges and ensure positive, sustainable change. While we have phased out our historical funding to nonprofit partners, we have opened up several investment opportunities to any nonprofit in our seven-county region.

We are working to create a culture of trust-based philanthropy that addresses inherent power imbalances, dismantles systemic racism and accelerates strategic investments. This new model addresses systemic, root cause issues. By prioritizing ideas, impact and functional capabilities over administrative reporting capacities, Metro United Way effectively advances equity, targets systemic racism, addresses power imbalances, grows investment and builds mutually accountable relationships within the community, relying on community outcomes as a whole instead of individual organizational or programmatic results.



Our vision and mission reflect our fundamental belief that all people belong and deserve fairness, justice, and inclusivity. Our strength comes from our diversity and we celebrate the visible and invisible qualities that make each person unique, including race, gender, age, sexuality, ability, religion, national origin, gender identity, and other identities. We commit to aligning our culture and business practices to be a beacon of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging for all people.

Within our community, we know that a great majority of Black and Brown residents have not experienced the same levels of educational and wealth opportunities and achievement, dramatically impeding their ability to thrive – which affects us all. We all win when every child succeeds in school, when under-resourced neighborhoods turn around, when families have good health and when workers have solid jobs.

We passionately believe in the humanity and potential of all and have a fundamental belief that all people belong. We strive to unite the community behind that belief to address systemic community challenges and ensure positive, sustainable change. After all, the measure of a community’s success doesn’t lie in those who already have opportunities to thrive but in those still fighting for them.

Some of the specific diversity, equity, and inclusion work that MUW leads:

  • Racial Wealth Gap Simulations – engagement event that takes people and organizations on a historical journey to wealth building in America, pausing on 13 federal policies that most powerfully accelerated or impeded progress based on race
  • Beyond Buzzwords – speaker series on diversity, equity and inclusion
  • Black L.O.V.E. (Live. Own. Vote. Excel) – investments/partnerships with Black-led organizations
  • Public Policy agenda – systemic change and lasting impact require a pairing of powerful programming and transformative policy making
  • United Neighborhoods – a resident-driven, place-based approach focused on specific neighborhoods within our 7-county region
  • Ensuring our staff, board, volunteer structure, governance, investment design and partners, events, purchasing, trainings – all reflect DEI


What is MUW’s work around public policy?

MUW recognizes that systemic change and lasting impact require a pairing of powerful programming and transformative policy making. Elected officials and administrative leaders are critical partners in promoting equity and opportunity for all people in the areas of education, economic mobility, and health, and as such, Metro United Way actively engages in public policy efforts. The range of issues affecting our priorities is vast. To be effective, Metro United Way has a targeted public policy agenda that has relevancy across our seven-county and two-state region.


How do I join the Tocqueville Society? 

There are several ways to join:

  • Contribute $10,000 annually to Metro United Way
  • Meet with, email or call our Senior Director of Development, Donna Wooten.
  • Participate in our Emerging Tocqueville (age 40 and under) or traditional Tocqueville Step-Up programs that provide opportunities to gradually give $10,000 annually over time


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