By Stephen Rhodes
I have manned a Salvation Army kettle at Christmas time and watched people fill it with money, and many without knowing precisely what the Sally Anne does in our community. Trust is powerful stuff. Trust is something most commercial brands would kill for. Of course, you have to earn it.
I was thinking about the challenges these organizations face in a slow economy and I had a chance recently to chat with fellow Rotarian David Fitzpatrick, chair of board of the Kitchener Waterloo United Way.
Dave happened to mention that his board had adopted a more strategic approach to meeting its community obligations. United Way is shifting from being an organization that waits for fundraising results to determine what needs can be met, to becoming an organization that first identifies the most pressing issues in the community, and then mobilizes the necessary resources to meet these needs.
Chief among the Kitchener-Waterloo priorities:
- Children and Youth reach their Potential
- Families are Stronger
- Neighbourhoods are Inclusive and Thriving
- Newcomers are Welcomed and Supported
- People are Economically Secure
It’s not surprising that community needs have grown beyond what the annual campaign can raise. With the focus on building long-term change that meets local priorities, and investing where United Way can have the greatest results in their community, the emphasis is placed on strategic goals and not annual fundraising results. Fundraising in fact becomes a longer term campaign over 3 years or even 5 years.
From a marketing perspective, it provides a set of priorities around which the community can rally, less reliant on one year’s campaign goal, particularly important in tough times.