If you Google “United Way” and the phrase “Our goal is to” you will find that most United Ways have a goal that reads like this: “To create long-lasting changes that prevent problems from happening in the first place.” While this is a popular goal for United Ways, it leaves a lot of room for interpretation and a variety of implementation possibilities. But, there are some United Ways that have more clearly defined and declared their goal. United Way of Larimer County (Fort Collins, CO) is one of those United Ways:
What are they doing right?
First, the goal of United Way of Larimer County is simple and easy to understand: “Our goal is to cut poverty in half in Larimer County by 2025.” This is a great example of a community impact goal, a goal that is focused on an issue facing the community, and a goal that is measurable. Some United Ways have goals that address an issue like “ensuring everyone can attain good health,” which focuses on health, but is impossible to measure. Other United Ways have goals that are measurable, such as “to raise $12 million,” but have no connection to a specific issue in the community. United Way of Larimer County has a goal that focuses on an issue, and is measurable.
Second, their goal is found right on the home page of their Web site. You don’t have to search their Web site to find it; it is obvious and easy-to-find in a bright orange box. Most United Ways bury their goal on their “What We Do,” “About Us,” or “Our Work” pages. Because each United Way addresses their own issues, and funds local programs, it is essential to make it clear to the community and donors what your United Way does. If you just moved to Fort Collins, Colorado, you could quickly and easily see that United Way of Larimer County addresses poverty, compared to what you might know or have experienced with other United Ways.
Third, there is plenty of supporting information easily available if you want to learn more. Directly above the orange box is a “What’s New” box that has a link to their Community Impact Plan. The Community Impact Plan clearly explains why poverty is a significant issue in Larimer County and what United Way of Larimer County is going to do to address poverty. At the bottom center of the page is a little box labeled “Did You Know” with the statistic that 41,000+ people live in poverty in Larimer County right now. If you were not aware of the scope or prevalence of poverty in Larimer County, this statistic would be an eye-opener. There are three large buttons on the page for “Give,” “Get Help,” and “Volunteer.” These buttons make it easy for anyone to take action – if they need help, or if they can give of their time or money. Finally, it probably escapes most people, but in the gray box at the bottom of the page it says “Website Feedback 970.407.7000” I am willing to bet probably few people give a call, and perhaps most people who call have questions about things other than the Web site, but it is a great way to allow people to connect to someone directly to provide their input or get their questions answered.
The goal of United Way of Larimer County is a great example of a simple, well-communicated goal that any donor or community member can understand. The next time your staff or board meets to discuss the future of your United Way, think about how a goal like the one adopted by United Way of Larimer County can make your United Way more relevant and meaningful to your donors and your community. United Way of Larimer County, you are Doing It Right!