Adopting an issue focus transforms a United Way from a focus on workplace campaigns and raising money, to a focus on community impact and making meaningful change. Once a United Way has adopted an issue focus, it is essential to explain to donors and the community what issue is being addressed, why that issue is important, and the bold goal for that issue. One United Way we have helped transform to an issue focus through our Direction-Setting Process is United Way of Wayne and Holmes Counties (Wooster, OH). Let’s take a look at how United Way of Wayne and Holmes Counties explains their transformation to the issue of poverty and their bold goal of “10,000 out of poverty by 2025.”
What are they doing right?
First, they clearly talk about the need to address poverty and why United Way needs to change. There are statistics and information about the significance of poverty in Wayne and Holmes Counties, and the impact of poverty on children and their educational success. These statistics clearly demonstrate the magnitude of the challenge of poverty and the importance of trying to reduce poverty in Wayne and Holmes Counties. There is also a brief explanation of why United Way of Wayne and Holmes Counties is changing from a fundraising organization to a leader in bringing the community together to focus on a shared goal of moving 10,000 people out of poverty by 2025. There is a great sentence at the bottom of the page which explains this change: “Instead of raising money and allowing individual agencies to come to the table asking for money for the programs/initiatives they see as important, the issue of moving people out of poverty will drive the fundraising strategies.”
Second, United Way of Wayne and Holmes Counties puts a stake in the ground with their bold goal of “10,000 out of poverty by 2025.” They state “We need to focus on a common agenda, a shared goal” and “work differently towards that shared goal.” For United Ways to be successful with community impact, it is essential to replace the traditional campaign goal with a goal related to an issue. The goal of “10,000 out of poverty by 2025” will not be accomplished by United Way alone, and requires mobilizing the resources of the entire community.
Third, United Way of Wayne and Holmes Counties makes it easy for people to get involved with their “Donate” or “2-1-1 Get Help” tabs along the side of their Web pages. (Please note: the “Donate” and “2-1-1 Get Help” tabs only appear once on the side of their Web page, this screenshot repeated these tabs for some unknown reason.) In addition, the Web page outlines the community involvement in the section “We are listening to you” where they talk about their community conversations.
If your United Way is considering the possibility of adopting an issue focus, consider how United Way of Wayne and Holmes Counties has shared statistics about their issue of poverty, set a bold goal to move 10,000 people out of poverty by 2025, and outlined how they will address the issue of poverty. An issue focus will make it easier for your United Way to clearly and simply communicate your work. United Way of Wayne and Holmes Counties made the transition to an issue focus using our Direction-Setting Process. United Way of Wayne and Holmes Counties has done a great job communicating about their transformation to an issue focus, their issue of poverty, and their bold goal. United Way of Wayne and Holmes Counties, you are Doing It Right!