United Way changes how funds are distributed to nonprofits

Written on Jul 20, 2017

The United Way of Greater Cleveland has unveiled a new strategic plan that will expand its fundraising beyond the workplace campaign, pursue principal giving and rethink funds distribution.

Implementation of the plan, approved June 28 by the nonprofit's board of directors, begins this month at the start of a new fiscal year, signaled with a $31 million investment in local health and human service programs.

United Way has historically been centered around its annual campaign. Through surveys, focus groups, one-on-one interviews, feedback forums and more, United Way's community impact department spent several months compiling an assessment.

The resulting research and data helped to establish four main goals: a more collaborative culture to address challenges facing the community; a new approach to fundraising and interaction with donors; a transparent, forward-looking model for distributing funds; and infrastructure changes within the organization.

The first step: re-establishing United Way's role as leader to other nonprofits. Collaboration among nonprofits with aligned goals can allow for smarter investment and reduced redundancies.

The second major shift will be in re-imagining the fundraising. United Way will continue to work with corporations looking to work through their social responsibility agenda, but that's just one venue.

To ensure greater transparency and accountability in its funding, United Way is rolling out a new model for allocating funds. Beginning in July 2018, the Community Hub Model will provide funding for program capacity and create opportunities for collaboration.

The organization has identified four "Impact Area Hubs," groups of organizations funded through United Way's allocation process and centered around topics of community need: education, financial stability, health and basic needs. The hubs will convene on a quarterly basis to discuss trends and best practices, provide support, identify areas for collaboration and more.

United Way plans to put out requests for qualifications, calling for all agencies — not just those who have been funded historically — to demonstrate why they're qualified to work together with other organizations to address a community need. The RFQs, convening efforts and funding will focus around those four key areas. The model will provide greater transparency, as well as collaboration, touching again on United Way's convening role.

The final goal listed in the strategic plan, infrastructure enhancement, is already underway. United Way has fewer workplace campaign account managers and more focused on principal or comprehensive fundraising.

It will also strengthen its operations by focusing on advanced employee performance, upgrading its technology and fostering a work culture around a shared purpose.

Leave a comment

Upcoming Events