Community Impact is More Than Collective Impact


Donors – especially younger donors – have increasingly high expectations of the charitable organizations they support. Donors want to feel confident that the dollars they donate go to organizations that significantly impact their community.

In response to changing donor expectations, many United Ways have begun to explore community impact as a means to ensure their local investments produce maximum impact. Unfortunately, while many United Ways want to fully adopt the community impact approach, doing so can seem daunting. 

After wrestling with what it meant to become a community impact organization, many United Ways began to pursue collective impact as their means achieve community impact. The unfortunate reality of this is that community impact is the most complex means by which a United Way can pursue community impact. Transitioning from a fundraising model to a collective impact model is challenging even for well-funded United Ways.

If large United Ways struggle to make the transition to collective impact, how can non-Metro 1 United Ways hope to effectively achieve community impact?

Fortunately, there are several alternatives to collective impact that are accessible and viable for United Ways of all sizes.

In total, there are six methods that United Ways use to achieve community impact. These methods range in complexity from specialized RFPs and in-house initiatives to collective impact. While collective impact remains the most complex of these methods, there are other methods that you could easily implement in your next funding cycle.  

On November 27, we will be hosting our webinar “Six Methods to Maximize Your Impact.” This webinar will explore the six methods that United Ways use to achieve community impact, the strengths and weaknesses of each method, as well as provide practical suggestions for how you can begin to implement these methods at your United Way. If you are interested in learning more about this webinar and the other topics this webinar will cover, please visit our webinar information page here.

While this webinar is relevant to United Ways that are on the community impact journey, we will be offering a total of nine webinars in the coming months that will cover other relevant topics in impact and investment, marketing and engagement, and resource development. To see a full list of our upcoming webinars and the topics we will cover, please visit our website here.

Nine Webinars You Can’t Afford to Miss!

We are excited to introduce our 2018-2019 Signature Series and Master Class webinars. Both series of webinars have been designed to provide you with answers to the most common questions and challenges facing United Ways like yours.

Check out the full webinar descriptions here to learn about these exciting training opportunities. We are kicking off our webinar series on November 27, 2018 with Six Methods to Maximize Your Impact, and we will have webinars every month from November through next June.

2018-2019 Signature Series: Three webinars to explore the future of your United Way

  • We will reveal surprising findings from our local United Way donor research that will change the future of your United Way in Why United Ways Must Change: Surprising Results From Donor Research.

  • When the Basics No Longer Work, What’s Next? explores the future of United Way and how the Issue Focus Model is making United Ways relevant again.

  • What You Tell Your Donors & What They Really Want to Hear carefully examines what donors want to know and what they don’t need to know from their United Way.

Master Classes: Six webinars to take your United Way to the next level

  • In Five Essentials for Successful Social Media, we will share how to use social media effectively, including what you need to use social media to say and how to say it.

  • We hear from many United Way Presidents/CEOs/Executive Directors that are struggling with board engagement, a topic we will be tackling head-on in How to Get Your Board Onboard: Secrets of the Engaged Board.

  • Get Them to Give: Designing Your Campaign Brochure will help you develop a focused, on-target campaign brochure that will promote giving – which is especially important when so many workplaces no longer allow United Ways to make an in-person presentation.

  • We will talk about collective impact, which is just one of the six different community impact methods used by United Ways, as well as help your United Way decide what is right for your community in Six Methods to Maximize Your Impact.

  • How to Connect With Your Next Generation of Donors looks at what the younger generation wants from United Way and how your United Way can attract younger donors.

  • Successful affinity groups should be a part of every United Way and we’ll show you how to create an affinity group or transform your current affinity group into a high-energy way to impact your community in Affinity Groups: Not Nice-to-Have, They’re Need-to-Have.

Five Fabulous Facts About Our Webinars:

  • Your entire staff and board can have access! Just pay one fee and gather everyone around.

  • Access webinars anytime you want! After you attend a live webinar, you will have access to a recording of the webinar for one year.

  • Ask questions and get answers! All of our live webinars offer the opportunity for real-time Q+A. If you purchase a webinar recording, you’ll still get direct access to our staff who can answer your questions too.

  • It’s never too late! If you missed a live webinar - don’t worry. We have recordings available here.

  • Your webinar is guaranteed! If you are not satisfied for any reason let us know and we’ll refund your fee.

Learn more about our three Signature Series webinars and our six Master Class webinars at

We look forward to having you and your staff join us for a webinar soon!

Quote of the Month: October 2018

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After speaking to United Ways at conferences for many years, people have attributed several quotes to me. This month’s quote comes from yours truly:

“Helping people is easy. Change is hard.” – Gary Goscenski, Issue-Focused Consultant, Perspectives

When a United Way provides funding for a program it helps people. For example, 120 local families received food from a local food pantry because United Way provided funding to the food pantry. It is relatively easy for United Way to say they helped these families by making an investment in their program.

It is hard to change things. The challenge of change comes when you ask the question: “How do we change things so that these 120 families will not need food from the local food pantry next month?”

Many United Ways measure success by how many people received help. Very few United Ways measure success by how many people no longer need help.

What is success for your United Way – helping or changing?

Adopting an issue focus is all about achieving change – fewer people in poverty, more students graduate from high school, fewer people are homeless, etc. Change is hard, but United Ways that have adopted an issue focus make change in their communities every day. Check out the Issue Focus Model on our website and see how your United Way can make change. One of the most powerful aspects of the Issue Focus Model is that it not only changes your community, but it makes your United Way relevant, sustainable, and impactful.

If you have a quote you would like to share for our Quote of the Month, please let me know at

Blog Survey Update

On another note: We want to thank everyone who took the time to complete our blog survey. We sincerely appreciate your comments and suggestions, and you will see us incorporating your comments and suggestions into future blog posts.

Congratulations to Jimmy Hill, President and CEO, River Region United Way (Montgomery, AL), who completed our blog survey and was randomly selected to receive a free webinar from Perspectives for his United Way!