Here are some of the questions that United Ways ask us most frequently:

What is the best time to transform to an issue focus?

As the saying goes, the best time to plant a shade tree is 20 years ago and the second best time is now. Ideally, the best time to start our Direction-Setting and Strategic Planning is when your United Way is the least busy, which is normally between workplace campaign seasons.

How long does it take?

From our Introduction to an Issue Focus Board Retreat to our Strategic Planning, it takes between 8-12 months to complete, depending on the time needed to complete the research and meetings with stakeholders, as well as the availability of staff, board, and volunteers to participate in Direction-Setting and Strategic Planning sessions.

Who will be included?

Your board and staff will participate in our Introduction to an Issue Focus Board Retreat, Direction-Setting session, and Strategic Planning session. All of your major stakeholders - donors, partner agencies, top campaigns, and community members - will be involved in Direction-Setting through research, meetings, and conversations.

How much staff time is required?

Our Direction-Setting and Strategic Planning requires staff time to organize meetings, collect information, provide input on survey drafts, contact stakeholders, and network with other United Ways. Staff time typically totals between 75 and 150 hours over the course of 8-12 months. At the beginning of our Direction-Setting and Strategic Planning, we will put a schedule together with you that will outline when this work will take place. This will allow you to fit the staff work into your schedule and around what needs to be accomplished at your United Way.

How much time is required of your board?

Determining the direction of your United Way will be the most important work your board will accomplish. To do this, your board will attend three sessions: an Introduction to an Issue Focus Board Retreat, a Direction-Setting session, a Strategic Planning session, and will view two webinars. The total time required for these sessions and webinars will be approximately 17 hours. Board members will also be asked to complete a board survey via e-mail, which will take no more than 30 minutes to complete.

What size of United Ways do you work with?

We have worked with United Ways of all sizes, from 1A to 3C, or if you are old school, Metro 1 to Metro 8. We will work with your staff and board to customize your Direction-Setting and Strategic Planning while keeping in mind the size of your United Way, the resources you have available, the needs of your community, and your stakeholders.

What research is involved?

The most effective and visionary strategic plans are based on an understanding of the perceptions, priorities, and ideas of your key stakeholders. We will share and discuss the potential direction of your United Way with your donors, board, staff, community members, partner agencies, and top campaigns to provide you with the information and understanding necessary to develop an informed strategic plan. This will involve a donor survey, board/staff survey, community survey, and meetings with partner agencies and top campaigns. We will also ask you to network with other United Ways.