John Wilgers

John Wilgers

The Greater Twin Cities United Way announced its 2018 results, which its leaders say was adapted to suit the changing needs of the Twin Cities region as well as changes in donor giving.

The United Way’s announcement coincides with the release of the organization’s IRS 990 financial report, which showed $68.6 million raised. In 2018, United Way advanced its transformation plan by focusing on programs such as United Way’s Career Academies. The program addresses the workforce shortage and opportunity gaps that are holding back high school students from households with low incomes. According to United Way officials, since 2015, 4,800 high school students are on career paths while collectively earning over 6,000 college credits and saving $1.9 million in tuition costs.

Based on more than 100 listening sessions with donors, nonprofit leaders and independent subject matter experts, United Way developed and implemented its new community impact strategy; one it says is anchored in equity. The strategy focuses on providing better access for all to housing, healthy food, education, the workforce and economic opportunity.

“Greater Twin Cities United Way has moved well beyond your ‘grandfather’s community chest’ model. We take a long-term, holistic approach to serving the community because it takes more than fundraising to make a significant impact,” said Tim Welsh, chair of the board of United Way. “As a result, we have new holistic metrics for which we’re holding ourselves accountable.”

Another change, the United Way is testing a consulting model with fee-based services, including developing and managing grantmaking strategies for individuals, partnering with companies to develop their corporate social responsibility strategies, developing and managing corporate volunteer programs and providing guidance to foundations on governance structure.

“Our plan calls for a new business model that is enabling United Way to diversify funding sources to most effectively support people in our region who cannot afford basic needs,” said Welsh. “Our plan also calls for fundraising results to stabilize in 2019 with funding secured through a variety of sources that will continue to evolve.”

According to Welsh the organization is addressing an urgent community need for access to housing, healthy food, education and workforce skill development by advocating with partners for $91 million in state funding that was invested in housing, food access, education and workforce training. With that the organization supported and impacted the bottom line of 23 organizations led by and serving people of color and via its Culturally Powered Communities program. 

“I’m very pleased that our 2018 comprehensive results reflected our forecast,” said Welsh. “While the amount was lower than 2017, we expected that given 2018 was the first year of executing our long-range transformation plan.”

 There’s also new leadership at the United Way.

John Wilgers joined Greater Twin Cities United Way as president and CEO in June to lead the organization through the next phase of its transformation.

“During our next phase of our transformation, we will build on our strengths as an innovator, a catalyst for change, a multiplier, investor and strategic philanthropic partner,” said John Wilgers, CEO and president of Greater Twin Cities United Way. “Impacting the community through research-based innovation is our focus for the next few years. Innovations may include developing and testing new ways to serve the community such as support for young children who have experienced trauma as well as the expansion of our food security and Career Academies programs.” 

Editor’s note: Insight News Editor-in-Chief Al McFarlane is a Greater Twin Cities United Way board member.

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