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United Way pilots change

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By Todd Cohen

GREENSBORO, N.C. — With a boost from United Way of America, United Way of Greater Greensboro is stepping up efforts to change the way it does business.

Three years ago, Greensboro’s United Way began to shift its focus from providing general support for its member agencies to funding their specific programs that address critical community needs.

That shift included working with agencies to track their impact.

United Way of America now has selected Greensboro as one of five local United Ways whose efforts to focus on impact it will help strengthen — and use as models for other United Ways.

Other local United Ways getting support for the efforts to focus on impact include Camden, N.J.; Norwalk, Conn.; Phoenix, Ariz.; and Worcester, Mass.

The national organization will help each of the five United Ways develop and measure the results of a series of three-month business plans they will pursue over 14 months, says Kate Mehr, vice president for the community impact lab at United Way of America.

The idea is to organize local United Ways around their intended impact, gearing them to change lives; mobilize community resources; find opportunities and take quick action; treat donors as customers and partners; team up with other groups; and develop staff and volunteer leaders who lead in the community.

United Way cannot expect to “create real change in communities” simply by continuing to fund agencies, Mehr says.

A key goal is to find ways to address social problems that are interrelated, says Brook Wingate, executive vice president of Greensboro’s United Way.

“People’s problems are multifaceted,” she says, “and community impact is the best way to provide that continuum of care for people in need.”

Greensboro’s United Way is holding public forums in October and November to identify critical community needs, and possible solutions. For information, call 336-378-6600.

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