Posts in Events
Who Cares?

Your donors do NOT care about . . .

  •  The number of partner agencies that receive funding from your United Way
  •  The number of programs funded by your United Way
  •  The number of hours spent by volunteers to determine your allocations
  •  Your number of Facebook likes or Twitter followers
  •  The number of priority areas of investment or targeted goals at your United Way
  •  How many of your workplace campaigns had 100% participation
  •  Your total number of donors and the average amount contributed by your donors
  •  How much donors designated to other nonprofit organizations
  •  How many people used your volunteer connection website
  •  The number of people in your leadership giving society and how much they contributed
  •  How much money was invested in each of your priority areas of investment
  •  How much money was raised at your social fundraising event
  •  The amounts contributed by your top 20 workplace campaigns
  •  How many people are on your board of directors
  •  Your campaign goal

. . . because none of these things tell a donor why they should give to your United Way.

Your donors care about . . .

1)  What issue does your United Way address?

2)  What is your United Way doing to impact your issue?

3)  What results has your United Way achieved to impact your issue?

. . . because when your donors know these three things, they will know why they should contribute to your United Way. Learn more about the power of one issue and one bold goal to attract donors by becoming issue-focused on our website here.

Successful United Ways tell donors what they want and need to know.

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Kicking Out Hunger

Does your United Way hold a special event? If so, is your United Way promoting a specific issue tied to this event?

Many United Ways hold special events, but they are solely focused on fundraising. However, it’s important to remember that donors want to know how they are making an impact – whether they are contributing to your United Way through a workplace campaign, via text-to-give, or at an event. Therefore, it is essential to tie a specific issue to all of your events and explain how people will help to make an impact on the issue by attending your events.

United Way of Palm Beach County (West Palm Beach, FL) has tied an issue to their corporate kickball tournament, inviting people to "Kick Out Hunger." Fans, players, and teams are being encouraged to bring food items to the event to help kick out hunger, and donations will support their Holiday Hunger Drive. This is a great example of connecting a specific issue to a special event.


Whether you choose to focus on hunger, poverty, or school readiness, remember to not only communicate the issue, but the impact of attending your event, as well. For example, we love how United Way of Tri-County (Framingham, MA) simply communicated the impact of attending their "Flashback to End Hunger" event on Twitter by saying one $25 ticket to their event gets five bags of groceries for someone in need.

Simplify & Diversify With an Issue Focus

As workplace campaigns continue to remain flat or decline across the country, United Ways are looking for new ways to diversify their resources. Holding special events tied to a specific issue is just one way your United Way can raise additional resources outside of campaign.

Adopting an issue focus will make your United Way’s marketing message much simpler, but more importantly, it will open the door to additional resources outside of campaign. With an issue focus, our United Way clients have been amazed at the additional funds they have received that they didn’t even know existed before adopting an issue focus – from foundation grants to large gifts from individual donors. For example, Julie Capaldi, President at United Way of Pickens County, explained "We are a little United Way, and focusing on the issue of early childhood education and summer learning loss has resulted in raising more money from grants and campaigns, attracting new donors, and reduced designations."

You can learn more about the benefits of an issue focus and find out why United Ways like United Way of Pickens County are transforming to an issue focus at If you are interested in learning more about an issue focus and/or would like to share information about an issue focus with your board and staff, contact me at for more information and a complimentary handout.


P.S. Our thoughts and prayers are with United Way of Palm Beach County and all of our United Way friends in the South who have been affected by the recent hurricanes. We also want to thank all of you who are helping out during this difficult time.

Make It Awesome! A Day Dedicated to Fundraising

Is your United Way involved in a day dedicated to raising money for your organization?

More United Ways each year are participating in #GivingTuesday, Red Nose Day, or a citywide or statewide fundraising day, like Give to the Max Day, in which United Way of Northeastern Minnesota (Chisholm, MN) is involved. However, while more United Ways are getting involved in some sort of fundraising day, most United Ways are not communicating about a specific issue the funds being raised will address, or how the donations will make a difference on a specific issue in the community.

Let’s take a look at the fundraising day in which United Way of Northeastern Minnesota is participating:

Today is Give to the Max Day in Minnesota, which is an annual 24-hour event in which Minnesotans are encouraged to donate to causes and organizations in Minnesota on the GiveMN Web site. Donors were able to schedule their Give to the Max Day donations beginning on November 1st, but the cut-off for donating is the end of the day today, November 17th.

There are prizes and leaderboards for Give to the Max Day on the GiveMN Web site. The organizations that raise the most funds appear on the leaderboards – Overall Leaderboard, Medium Nonprofits Leaderboard, Small Nonprofits Leaderboard, and Colleges & Universities Leaderboard – and the top five organizations on each leaderboard receive prize grants. "Golden Tickets" of $1,000 each and other prizes are awarded throughout the day, as well as two "Super-Sized Golden Tickets" of $10,000 each.

United Way of Northeastern Minnesota is doing a good job of communicating about their direct services, such as Buddy Backpacks, Imagination Library, Bright Beginnings, Good360, Smiles Across Minnesota, and United for Veterans. They are also doing a good job of communicating results that will be achieved if money is donated to each of these programs.

If you are involved in a fundraising day like United Way of Northeastern Minnesota, we would encourage you to communicate about your specific issue(s), the actions you are taking to address your issue(s) (for example: your direct services), and the results you are achieving in the community.

Check out these three ideas to take a fundraising day to the next level and Make It Awesome!

How to Take a Fundraising Day and Make It Awesome!

  1. Only communicate about one or two issues. Many United Ways communicate about multiple issues within categories, such as education, income, and health. If you are not yet issue-focused, we would encourage you to focus on communicating about one or two issues your United Way is addressing in the community. You do not want to overwhelm your community with multiple issues you are addressing and you want to be able to communicate a concise message that people will remember, especially if you are competing for dollars with other local nonprofits. When people are searching for a specific cause/issue on these Web sites, you want them to find your United Way and understand what your United Way does if they visit your fundraising page.
  2. Do not talk about categories or processes. You have limited space and time to get your message across, and you do not want to waste it talking about multiple categories or processes. Potential donors want to know about the issue(s) your United Way is focused on addressing in the community, and categories are not issues. Potential donors do not care about processes or how you do things at your United Way – they are concerned about how their donation will make an impact on a specific issue.
  3. Communicate clear actions and results. Take a look at United Way of Northeastern Minnesota’s "Find a Cause" page here. They are doing a great job of communicating about their direct services, which are the actions they are taking, as well as the results that will be achieved if they receive donations toward those programs/causes (If you click on each program/cause on the "Find a Cause" page, it opens up a new Web page with additional information about United Way of Northeastern Minnesota’s actions and results). We would encourage you to communicate actions and results like United Way of Northeastern Minnesota is doing, but only the actions and results for the one or two issue(s) you decide to highlight.

By following these three simple ideas, you will take your involvement in a fundraising day and Make It Awesome!

If you would like us to review something your United Way is doing and Make It Awesome! send me an e-mail at As your Issue-Focused Consultant, I will share great tips and ideas with you about how to enhance what you are doing, and will provide you with the information your donors and community want to know, based on our research and experience in working with United Ways.