25 YEARS AGO
From her position as U.S. President of United Way Worldwide and past President of the United Way Suncoast (Tampa, FL), Suzanne McCormick offered this observation:
“What has become painfully obvious to me is that in fifty years, as a United Way network, we haven’t collectively moved the needle enough in creating more equitable societies and definitely not in terms of equal access to education and opportunity. We haven’t moved the needle far enough in creating an understanding of the impact we make in communities. We haven’t moved the needle far enough in creating an imperative understanding that we need to invest resources for the best skills and staff talent to help us solve the world’s most complex social problems to improve lives. We have been playing catch up for too long, without ever actually having caught up. It’s time to stop reinventing the wheel and trying to create solutions in silos or community by community. The future clearly dictates that if we truly want to improve lives, we must harness the power of shared technology, create multi-sector partnerships, and work together – as a functional network – with shared values for shared solutions. We’ve been on a listening journey recently, and are actively learning from our history, our mistakes, and our successes. We hope to change the environment we’ve been operating in to allow for more innovation sharing, best practice sharing and learning, and genuine partnership.”
Each list reflects several perspectives:
All reinforce the need of local United Way organizations to:
In retrospect, readers might casually observe, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” While a majority of the specifics change, local United Way organizations continue to be confronted by issues that affect fundraising and quality of individual and family life. Continued concern for racism and sexism is a reminder of persistent issues. A deeper analysis of these issues serves as a reminder of several truths proven by United Way history.
1. The issues defined by United Way leaders transcend individual organizations. They touch nearly every community.
2. They directly relate to that common part of the United Way mission: “to improve lives” and United Ways’ focal responsibility to raise money to do so.
3. United Way continues to serve a centrist role in most communities, developing resources and focusing public attention on causes of problems more often than symptoms of problems.
Reflection: This periodic look at issues identified by professional United Way leaders goes beyond the thought that “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” This snapshot of issues underscores the continuing efforts of local, national, and international United Way leaders to confront them in a united way.
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