Client Success Story: The United Way of America
Strengthening The United Way of America
In September 2000, United Way of America’s Board of Governors established the Task Force on Strengthening the United Way System with one goal in mind: to strengthen the United Way system for the 1400 local United Ways and the communities they serve. Management consulting firm McKinsey & Company served as resource advisors. Leadership Strategies facilitated the Task Force of top corporate and non-profit leaders through its work processes. In an in-depth interview, Alyce Walker, the Executive Vice President of Organization Transformation for the United Way, described how the team was able to achieve its goal. “Believe me, this was a daunting task, but change is necessary for the healthy life of any organization. The Task Force is helping United Way become as productive in the future as it has been in the past, and is encouraging United Ways to grow and adapt to the changing philanthropic environment.”
The Task Force was a diverse group comprised of 21 individual volunteer and staff leaders, representing United Way of America’s Board of Governors, member United Ways, major corporations and organized labor. During a series of two-day sessions that spanned nearly a year, Leadership Strategies helped these corporate and community leaders develop a comprehensive vision and roadmap for transforming the entire system of 1400 United Ways nationwide. Their goal: to become the pre-eminent community change agent in the nation. The Task Force’s final report to the United Way board presented a series of recommendations including:
- Focus on community impact as its single driving priority and mission for the organization.
- Development of new skills and operating methods to fulfill this mission.
- Strengthened partnership agreements among local United Ways and United Way of America to help the United Way system more effectively leverage its skills and resources.
Over the next several months, United Way volunteer and professional leaders and other key stakeholders will be engaged in a number of opportunities to consider, discuss, reshape, adapt, and finalize recommendations for positive change based on this initial work. Leadership Strategies will continue to play a key role in facilitating these efforts and will provide comprehensive facilitation assistance to the United Way system as the recommendations are implemented.