The Greatest Challenge of Community Impact

Most United Ways have gone down the community impact journey. However, almost all of them have difficulty choosing a limited number of critical issues.

There are many United Ways that have adopted the categories of education, income, and health (or similar categories), but they are addressing many issues within those categories. For example, a lot of United Ways have focus areas within the categories of education, income, and health, such as: school readiness, children reading at grade level, and graduation rates within education. We commonly find that United Ways have over a dozen focus areas within their categories. We know choosing a limited number of critical issues can be difficult, especially since United Ways are historically known for serving as an umbrella organization and board and staff members feel it is their responsibility to serve all of the needs of the community. However, when a United Way has so many categories and focus areas, efforts become spread thin and it is difficult to show meaningful progress in any one focus area, not to mention marketing efforts are tougher and messaging is broad and inconsistent.

The average donor does not even begin to understand all of the categories and focus areas their United Way addresses, and board and staff members even have a tough time remembering everything their United Way does. In our research, we have found donors have a hard time identifying or relating to more than three social issues facing their community. Because of that, United Way donors want to know information about a specific issue your United Way is addressing, the actions you are taking to address the issue, and the results you are achieving in the community.

Our Community Impact Assessment can help your United Way take the next step on your community impact journey. The purpose of this assessment is to look at your current community impact efforts and identify possibilities and opportunities for focusing your community impact efforts on a more limited number of critical issues. In most cases, our Community Impact Assessment identifies several ways United Ways like yours can achieve a greater focus without necessarily changing their current direction. By examining all of the processes related to your community impact, we will be able to suggest multiple ways your United Way can narrow your focus by building on your current community impact efforts.

Our Community Impact Assessment is not complicated nor difficult. It takes a couple of weeks for us to review your progress and information, and to develop specific recommendations for how your United Way can move your community impact forward or take it to the next level.

If you are interested in learning more about our Community Impact Assessment, visit our Web site at: or contact me at

We know most of you have already implemented community impact at your United Way and are doing great things, such as providing your own programs or initiatives to address specific issues and communicating bold goals for each of your focus areas. Let us help you continue your community impact journey with our Community Impact Assessment and maximize your impact in the community!