2018 Great Rivers Conference

We invite you to join us at the upcoming 2018 Great Rivers Conference, a regional United Way conference being held from March 5th-8th in Indianapolis, Indiana. Gary and I will be presenting two sessions at this conference:


CEO Workshop: Leading Your United Way to a Successful Future   

On March 6th, we will be presenting a special session exclusively for United Way CEOs, Executive Directors, and Presidents. This session will show you how to lead your United Way to a successful future by transforming to an issue focus.

As the issue-focused experts, we will show you the power of an issue focus to simplify your United Way's message, diversify your resources, and maximize your impact. We will take an in-depth look at a variety of progressive issue-focused United Ways of all sizes, as we share stories of their successes and challenges. You will learn about the four essential steps for becoming a successful issue-focused United Way and the importance of including all of your stakeholders in the process. This session will provide you with a deeper understanding of what it means to be issue-focused and the knowledge you need to lead your United Way to a successful future.

Strengthen Your Financial Position by Effectively Diversifying Your Resources               

On March 7th, we will be presenting a session about diversifying your resources. We know workplace campaigns have been the bedrock of United Way fundraising for decades, but future financial stability will depend on effectively diversifying resources beyond workplace campaigns.

In this session, we will explore several proven methods for diversifying resources that will allow your United Way to strengthen your financial position in the future. We will begin by discussing a variety of possibilities for diversifying resources and evaluating the requirements and potential for each possibility. You will learn how to implement these possibilities to diversify your resources, illustrated by examples from progressive United Ways. Strengthen your United Way's financial position by learning how to effectively diversify your resources at this session.

For more information and to register for the 2018 Great Rivers Conference, visit https://unitedwaywi.site-ym.com/page/GRC2018. We hope to see you at one or both of our sessions in March!

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What is Your United Way’s Purpose?

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As we enter into a new year, many people have made resolutions to improve in various aspects of their life, from choosing to eat healthier or going to the gym more often, to traveling more frequently or spending more time with family and friends.

At your United Way, you have probably reviewed how you did the previous year and set a goal to raise more money this year. However, as workplace giving decreases and campaigns continue to decline, many United Ways across the country have recognized that something needs to change in order to succeed.

The essential question you must be able to answer is "What is your United Way’s purpose?" However, just like New Year’s resolutions, it can be challenging to have the discipline to answer this question.

The good news is that we are here to guide you. During our Introductory Board Retreat, we will facilitate a conversation with your board and staff about your United Way’s reason for existence, and whether your United Way exists to raise money or make an impact. If you feel passionately that your role is to serve as a fundraiser in your community, then it’s important to have a conversation about what you are currently doing, whether or not it’s working, and to discuss ideas for how to improve and be the best fundraiser you can be in your community. However, if you decide that making an impact in your community is your United Way’s purpose and you truly want to maximize your impact, then you may want to consider looking at becoming issue-focused.

During our retreat, we will explain what it means to become issue-focused and share the benefits of being issue-focused. Your board and staff will leave the retreat with an understanding of how to maximize your impact with an issue focus, and with enough information to determine if an issue focus is the right direction for your United Way.

Don’t wait to have this important conversation – make the commitment to get this year off to a great start by scheduling a retreat to have a conversation with your board and staff about your United Way’s reason for existence.

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P.S. We are here to help you succeed! As you plan for your United Way’s success in 2018, we invite you and your staff to attend our free, 90-minute webinar, "Trends 2018: The Top 5 Trends That Will Change Your United Way."

Don’t Miss Our Upcoming Webinar on October 24th

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Is your United Way prepared to succeed in the future? Have you been making changes to remain relevant and better connect with your donors and community members?

Preparing for the future is essential and we want to see you succeed, which is why we would like to invite you, your board, and your staff to join us on October 24th for our "Positioning Your United Way for 2020: What You Must Plan & Start Doing Today" webinar.

During this webinar, we will show you the leading-edge strategies and methods your board and staff should be planning and implementing today that will ensure your success in 2020. Learn how to implement these strategies and methods at your United Way to maximize your impact, resources, and communication, using examples from United Ways that are already ahead of the curve.

This webinar will show you how your United Way can remain relevant in the future by:

  • Avoiding the critical challenges facing United Ways that will only become more difficult in 2020. Learn strategies that your United Way can start using today to address those challenges.
  • Turning your investment process upside down using innovative investment methods that create meaningful change and achieve greater impact in your community. Learn what progressive United Ways of all sizes are doing to move the needle on critical social issues, so your United Way can change community conditions.
  • Creating your own call to action that attracts new donors and engages volunteers in your work. Learn how to easily develop a concise and memorable call to action, which you can put to work immediately for your United Way.
  • Strengthening your engagement opportunities, such as affinity groups and special events, to increase participation and grow your resources. Learn how to take your affinity groups and special events to the next level, connecting with current and potential donors, volunteers, and community members.
  • Communicating effectively using social media to inform and involve people in your work. Learn what works and does not work on social media, so your next tweet or post will be awesome!

Invite your entire board and staff to attend this 90-minute webinar on October 24th at 2 p.m. EDT for only $125! This cost covers registration for you, your board, and your staff to view this webinar live from one location, as well as a link to a recording of the webinar. The webinar recording can be accessed by your United Way board and staff for one year. To register for this webinar, visit www.perspectives4uw.com/webinars

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Quote of the Month: August 2017

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Our August Quote of the Month comes from Russell Ackoff, an American organizational theorist that taught at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania:

The righter we do the wrong thing, the wronger we become. Therefore, when we correct a mistake doing the wrong thing we become wronger. It is better to do the right thing wrong than the wrong thing right.

– Russell Ackoff

Here is a question for you to ponder with your staff and board: "Is your United Way doing the right thing, or the wrong thing?" Related to that question, you would have to ask yourself "How would you know?" Any United Way that is doing the same things they did 30, 20, 10, or even five years ago must carefully consider how dramatically society, technology, and charitable giving have changed during that time. Doing the wrong thing, for many United Ways, is continuing to do the same thing without adapting and responding to change. If your number of donors has decreased, and the amount you raise every year is flat or shrinking, that may be a sign that you are doing the wrong things. Go to the source and talk to your donors about what your United Way is doing currently, and what your United Way could do differently in the future, for guidance on doing the right things. Finally, identifying possibilities of what your United Way could do differently in the future is not easy. You might want to consider looking at an issue focus as one thing your United Way could do differently – and it might be the right thing for your United Way.

If you have a quote you would like to share for our Quote of the Month, please let me know at gary@perspectives4uw.com


Doing It Right! United Way of Northwest Arkansas (Lowell, AR)

What is your United Way doing to raise awareness of the issue you are focused on addressing in your community? United Way of Northwest Arkansas (Lowell, AR) recently held a Poverty Challenge to raise awareness of the issue of families living in poverty in the community and the daily struggle they face. Community leaders were challenged to spend only $5 a day on food (per person in their family), and their experiences with the Poverty Challenge were shared on United Way of Northwest Arkansas’ Facebook, Twitter, and blog. Board members and staff participated in this challenge and posted pictures of the food they purchased and their receipts. They also shared their thoughts about this challenge and pictures of the meals they ate throughout the week.

What are they doing right?

First, this Poverty Challenge raised awareness of the issue United Way of Northwest Arkansas is focused on addressing. United Way of Northwest Arkansas is addressing the issue of child poverty and this Poverty Challenge is just one of the many ways they are informing their community about their issue. They have done a great job explaining the prevalence of their issue in their community on their Web site and on social media.

Second, this is a great way to engage the community, and it gives participants and the community a glimpse of what it would be like to live in poverty. Whether someone participated in the Poverty Challenge or followed someone else’s experience, the community was able to see how their neighbors could be struggling. By understanding what people in their community may be experiencing, community members will be more likely to want to make a difference and contribute to United Way of Northwest Arkansas.

Third, this challenge helped to spread the word about what United Way of Northwest Arkansas is doing in the community. In communities across the country, many people have heard of United Way, but have no idea what their local United Way does. Inviting community leaders to take part in this challenge and posting about their experiences on social media was a great way to inform the community about the issue United Way of Northwest Arkansas is focused on addressing in the community. In addition, the local media provided coverage for the Poverty Challenge, including tweets by KNWA News and an online article.

It is essential to inform and engage your community about the issue you are addressing, just as United Way of Northwest Arkansas is doing. Your community will be more likely to contribute their time and/or money to your United Way if they know what you do, and an issue focus is a great way to simplify your message. Consider engaging your community in something similar to United Way of Northwest Arkansas’ Poverty Challenge to raise awareness of what you do and the importance of the issue you address. If you are not yet issue-focused, we can help guide you in becoming issue-focused, like we did for United Way of Northwest Arkansas. United Way of Northwest Arkansas, you are Doing It Right!


P.S. Check out this blog post from 2013 about United Way of Central Carolinas’ Young Leaders’ Week to Fight Hunger (Charlotte, North Carolina), which is similar to United Way of Northwest Arkansas’ Poverty Challenge.