Is Your United Way Communicating Impact?

If you’re like most United Ways, you use a thermometer to measure campaign progress. You set a goal and communicate the dollars raised, by posting a thermometer on your Web site and putting up thermometers in your community. While the thermometer shows how much money is being raised, it does not show the impact of donors’ contributions.

How many people are being served? How many lives are being changed? What is your United Way doing to make an impact in your community?

Kellogg’s is currently running a campaign called “Share Breakfast.” They are using an image similar to a thermometer to measure progress, but are communicating the number of breakfasts shared instead of the amount of money being donated. Their spoon is communicating results.


Kellogg’s is asking people to make an impact. Each time someone spreads their message by sharing it on Facebook, tweeting about it on Twitter, pinning it on Pinterest, or watching the video on YouTube, one breakfast is shared with a child in need. Kellogg’s communicates the importance of people supporting the “Share Breakfast” campaign, by providing statistics of children who may go without breakfast and how breakfast can change a child’s day. They make it known that this cause is important and that help is needed in order to reach their goal of raising 1,000,000 breakfasts for kids who may go without breakfast. They are communicating impact.

We encourage your United Way to follow Kellogg’s lead by changing the focus of your thermometer. Don’t focus on dollars raised. Focus on an issue you are addressing in the community. Show people how their dollars are making an impact by communicating the results you are achieving to address the issue.

We found two examples of United Ways who are on the right track with their thermometers and wanted to share them with you:


These United Ways have taken the thermometer a step further by communicating results and telling people how they are making an impact in the community. We want your United Way to take it even further by selecting an issue to focus on in your community. Set a goal for the number of people you plan on helping in your community, whether that is the number of children who will be Kindergarten-ready, the number of students who will graduate this year, or the number of families who will receive a meal. Focus on an issue, set a goal, and communicate your results.

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