Our community is constantly changing and growing along with the organizations that serve it. With more than 3,200 nonprofits in Allen County (including hospitals, churches, foundations and charitable organizations) a significant amount of work is being done to improve our area. We checked in with one of the lead nonprofits in our community, United Way of Allen County, to see what has changed in the past year since new president and CEO, David Nicole, started.
You have been at United Way of Allen County for a year, what has changed since you started last November?
David Nicole: What hasn’t changed? All joking aside, we have made numerous changes and our board and staff are energized. We went through a strategic planning process last spring and created a new direction that will help individuals and families in our community discover and achieve their potential. The goals that have been set for the next three years are immense and daunting, but are the right direction for our needs and will challenge all our stakeholders. We established a new mission and vision that is acting as a lens to guide our volunteer and staff decisions as we work towards improving our community.
What is the new vision and mission of United Way of Allen County?
Nicole: We had more than 100 community members participate in the strategic planning process. They decided what United Way needs to be for our community. We had representatives from the social service sector, business community, organized labor, education, government, our own staff and community volunteers that ultimately created the plan. What they envision is an Allen County where all individuals and families discover and achieve their potential. To achieve that, they decided United Way needs to unite our community’s time, talent and treasure to cultivate and advance solutions that address the most critical issues around basic needs, education, financial stability and healthy lives.
How do you plan to achieve that mission?
Nicole: We have three goals to drive our organization for the next three years. The first is to achieve operational excellence, we have to earn the community’s trust by operating more effectively and efficiently. We need to clearly articulate the unique value proposition of United Way of Allen County. We connect diverse organizations and individuals in the community to address critical needs; we leverage resources to multiply impact. The second goal is to mobilize the community to collaboratively move the needle on issues. It is only together that we will be able to change the conditions facing families and individuals. The third goal is to increase our revenue so we can accomplish the first two goals.
Furthermore, we need to improve both how we operate internally as a board and staff and we need to ensure we are getting out in front of more people and consistently soliciting feedback from stakeholders. We are committed to bringing our entire community together to identify a major hurdle for our residents and then bringing partners together to move the needle toward fixing whatever issue is identified. That issue could be decreasing the number of families that fall below financial stability (via A.L.I.C.E. - Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed), high school dropout rates, infant mortality or obesity, or improving early childhood education and third grade reading levels. It also means we need to identify the financial resources to support those efforts.
So how do you start to tackle this immense plan?
Nicole: We are already starting. From a very basic level we have aligned all staff and are working on aligning all committees and volunteers with the strategic plan so we can operate as effectively as possible. Our processes are more standardized making them easier to achieve, which also means we can get out in front of more people to make the case for investing in our area and United Way. To work towards identifying a community-wide issue and bringing partners together to achieve it, we are laying the ground work now and will be holding community conversations in the spring to hear the aspirations and concerns of our Allen County neighbors. They know what needs to be accomplished to improve our community and we trust them to help guide our efforts.
Address: 334 E. Berry Street Fort Wayne, Indiana 46802
Phone: (260) 422-4776
Years in Business: 93
Number of Employees: 24
Products & Services: United Way of Allen County unites our community’s time, talent and treasure to cultivate and advance solutions that address the most critical issues around basic needs, education, financial stability and healthy lives.