A new year has never felt more promising. At United Way of Greater Cleveland, we are in a position to transform promise into action against the groundswell of poverty in our region.
The path in 2018 is steadfastly guided by the light of our bold, new 3-year strategic plan that continues to break the mold for how to most effectively tackle community issues and challenges.
I’m excited to share that we are currently in one of the most crucial phases of our reinvigorated process, among the many we have put in place. We are evaluating which agencies and programs throughout our region demonstrate the fullest capabilities to serve as our problem-solving partners.
Change through data, partnerships
Our Community Impact team is undertaking this crucial task, equipped for the first time with a powerful tool—the 2017 Community Assessment of the needs of people throughout Cuyahoga County. This report is the most comprehensive body of data United Way has amassed about the condition, perceptions and needs of those in the communities we serve.
This report also revealed to us that we needed to reform our allocations process to better serve the people in most critical need. The outcome of this was the inception of our Community Hub Model.
The model is designed to provide funding for program capacity, while creating opportunities for programs to collaborate. Our goal is to create a more effective social-service network by convening people and resources to better impact poverty and its underlying causes.
Once we have fully vetted our potential partner agencies and programs, we will apply this very same data-driven approach to choosing which organizations to allocate your valued donations.
And this is where the heart of the new strategic plan beats strongest.
Funding will require agencies to closely collaborate with one another in an entirely new fashion to help ensure there is an even greater impact. Stringent standards of accountability will require evidence that the programs and services we fund are making measurable progress toward long-term solutions, which include:
- Preparing children to succeed in school, from early childhood to post-secondary education
- Ensuring parents have adequate financial educations to find stable jobs that can support a household without constant struggle
- Providing access to quality health care and medications
- Refusing to allow families to suffer because they cannot afford basic needs like food, shelter and heat
Through all of this we will demand of our partners, and of ourselves, a transparency that earns the deepest trust of all stakeholders and instills their unwavering confidence in us.
Other initiatives for success
To our donors, we pledge to foster a more personalized and rewarding fundraising experience that empowers the philanthropic spirit by better aligning contributions with the causes that resonate most-deeply within. Our efforts will inspire new supporters to join the cause and give of their time, talent and treasure.
And rest assured that the talented staff at United Way is committed to a high-performance, team-centric workplace culture grounded in best-practices and bolstered by the advanced technological support they need to execute our strategic plan.
Solving complex problems of the human condition takes courage, perseverance and passion. Those are core traits that have defined United Way from our inception more than a century ago, and are the very traits that will keep us sure-footed as we surge ahead with our ambitious strategy.
We are truly grateful to have so many of you walking arm-in-arm with us as we take on the challenges that lay ahead. Prepare to experience a year of bold, innovative strides that will not only transform promise into action, but transform action into success.
It’s that time of year when our children head back to school, the days become shorter and we start looking forward to all that fall has to offer our beautiful midwestern city. It’s also the time of year when we hold our annual campaign kickoff. This will be the second official campaign kickoff under my tenure; and as we have done with many other aspects of our organization during the past year, we’ve decided to transform the event to better reengage the community.
This year we’re changing it up from pancakes and taking a more progressive approach to celebrating our kickoff. As someone who holds Cleveland near and dear to my heart, I wanted to help showcase our great city in a less traditional way, while still convening our community members, donors and volunteers in our city’s epicenter to say thank you for your generosity, passion and dedication. After all, you are at the heart – the philanthropic pulse – of what makes United Way tick.
We want to celebrate the things we all love most about Cleveland – our community, our innovation, our willingness to change and the people who make Cleveland a city of greatness and goodwill!
As part of our new United Way, driven by our new strategic plan, we have shifted focus to two core priorities – the people we serve and the donors who make it possible to do so. This year’s event will be held at a fantastic location where Clevelanders can come together to celebrate this past campaign year, while enjoying the city and all that inspires them to give of their time, talent and treasure. What better place than Mall B in downtown where we have celebrated historic sporting wins and are surrounded by the sights and sounds of a respected and growing city?
This year our “Heroes in the CLE” event will honor those in our community who have not only supported United Way and our partner agencies, but have also inspired us to continue to focus on the bigger picture: helping improve the lives of our children, neighbors and community members to ensure that everyone has a healthier, safer and brighter future.
Please join our team, our Campaign Co-Chairs Beth Mooney, CEO of KeyCorp; and Chris Kelly, partner at Jones Day; and fellow community members on Mall B in downtown Cleveland on Thursday, August 31 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Mingle with fellow Clevelanders while enjoying food from local food trucks and music from DJ Ryan Wolf, helping kickoff this year’s campaign by reaffirming your promise to be a Hero in the CLE for those in need.
When I joined United Way of Greater Cleveland as President and CEO a little more than a year ago, the Board of Directors gave me one directive – to reinvent United Way. Why? Because despite the more than $2.2 billion United Way has helped raise and give back to our community since 1913, the success of our annual campaign model has declined, while the need for the types of community services we fund has increased.
With the full support of our board, executive team and a special strategic planning committee of the Board of Directors, we’re ready to begin sharing the results of a year-long effort to develop a three-year strategic plan and a recently completed community assessment.
The Community Assessment was a huge undertaking, involving surveys of more than 26,000 individuals and organizations in seven counties, 23 focus groups, interviews with 50 individual stakeholders and many other data and information gathering tactics. What we learned will drive how we allocate funding to the community and help restructure our operations to be more responsive to agencies and organizations we support.
Another important information-gathering resource was the United Way 2-1-1 Helpline, which has an expansive database of information. With more than 4,000 points of contact and the ability to track and identify trends on incoming calls to our navigation specialists, we were able to add a great deal of substantive information to the plan.
The 2017-2020 Strategic Plan envisions a new approach to engaging donors and addressing the greatest needs in our community. The three-year plan, which incorporates a new vision, mission, values and guiding principles for United Way of Greater Cleveland, identifies four goals:
- To create a more collaborative culture of philanthropy to address Greater Cleveland’s significant levels of poverty – we will re-establish United Way as the leader in the community on the issue of poverty by being a convener of those aligned with our key goals, allowing us to achieve the greatest social impact.
- To focus on fundraising, creating more impact by implementing a robust, donor-centric approach that inspires more people to give of their time, talent and treasure. This fresh approach to fundraising will give the donor the power to choose what causes and issues best align with their philanthropic desires.
- To modify resource distribution to be even more transparent, integrated and data-informed, with a focus on long-term solutions in the four critical impact areas of education, financial stability, health and basic needs – those identified by the Community Assessment.
- To improve operational performance through a collaborative culture, high-performing teams, integrated infrastructure and enhanced technology. Simply put, we are reorganizing staff to align with the Strategic Plan, and investing in new technology, software and data analytics to support execution of the plan.
I am extremely excited by this new direction for United Way of Greater Cleveland and am ready to work with our talented team to bring this plan to life. Please join me on a journey that will require passion and perseverance, and the ability and desire to remain focused and invigorated as we work to achieve these goals and fulfill our new mission to “mobilize people and resources by creating solutions that improve lives and our community.” Because it all begins and ends with the people in need throughout our community, and each and every one of you play a role in changing our region for the better.
Complete details of the Strategic Plan and Community Assessment will be shared via various outlets in the very near future, so please stay tuned.