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.