Issue Focus Model

The Issue Focus Model is the answer for United Ways that desire to be relevant, sustainable, and impactful in today’s competitive climate.  

The Issue Focus Model offers United Ways relevance, sustainability, and impactfulness because it is the refined evolution of where you are heading / it radically different than typical United Ways.

An issue focus offers United Ways a different future because it works very differently from a traditional United Way: 

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Raise money and then decide how to invest it in broad categories of issues, such as education, income, and health



Decide what issue they want to impact in their communities and then raise the money to do it


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Issue-focused United Ways and typical United Ways invest in their communities, raise funds, and measure success in fundamentally different ways. There are five things an issue-focused United Way does differently from a typical United Way:

1. Focus on One Issue.
An issue-focused United Way selects a single, pressing issue in their community to focus their efforts on such as poverty, childhood literacy, hunger, the graduation rate, or homelessness. This is an issue that United Way can lead, but United Way will not own this issue. Instead, an issue-focused United Way acts as a convener of all local organizations working on this issue.

2. Establish a Bold Goal.
An issue-focused United Way selects a measurable, long-term bold goal for their issue that guides all their future efforts. This goal replaces the campaign goal and becomes a rallying cry for United Way, its partners, and the community.

3. Identify and Fund Strategies.
After assessing the services and programs available in the community, an issue-focused United Way works with other organizations to identify and fund strategies to impact their Issue. Partners are no longer just the partner agencies United Way funds – they’re all of the organizations in the community working on the issue.

4. Obtain Diversified Resources.
With a bold goal and identified strategies to be funded, an issue-focused United Way diversifies its financial resources beyond workplace campaigns to include grants from governments and foundations. Securing grants in addition to the workplace campaign allows issue-focused United Ways to grow their total resources under management.

5. Communicate Progress.
An issue-focused United Way’s results are the progress made toward their bold goal. Campaign goals are no longer discussed as issue-focused United Ways gauge their success by their progress toward the bold goal.

When United Ways establish a bold goal, and identify and fund strategies they are impactful.
When United Ways obtain diversified resources, they are sustainable.
When United Ways focus on one issue and communicate progress on that issue, they are relevant.

Confused? Seems a little strange? Take a more in-depth look at the Issue Focus Model here.