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Florence United Way adopts new business model

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FLORENCE — United Way of Florence County has announced the adoption of a new business model designed to promote collaboration among nonprofit, government, civic and business organizations to target resources toward Florence County’s most pressing needs.

The collective impact model was approved unanimously by the board of directors and is widely regarded as best practice among United Way organizations nationwide.

“The board has recognized for some time that for our United Way to thrive, we need a more innovative, forward-thinking and strategic approach,” said Les Ward, chairman of the board. “This shift opens up so many possibilities to strengthen and expand our impact in Florence County.”

The collective impact model will shift the organization’s efforts from “broad and shallow” to “intentional and focused,” United Way of Florence President Cameron Packett said.

“The collective impact model is a much more strategic approach than the original community chest model, allowing us not just to mitigate persistent issues in our community but to identify and work to resolve our key challenges at their roots. The concerted, intensive nature of the collective impact model can help us bring substantial and sustainable change to Florence County.”

The collective impact model also is more in line with current trends in giving, Packett said.

“Individuals and businesses are more interested than ever in giving back to their communities, but they want to know that their dollars are addressing an essential need and producing substantive results,” Packett said.

“This initiative is data-driven from start to finish. It begins with clear data on our most fundamental needs. It ensures that proven approaches are employed to help solve the problem, and it measures results.”

United Way has assembled a task force composed of community leaders from across Florence County to help guide the transition to the collective impact model. The task force will help conduct a comprehensive needs assessment, assist in evaluating research-based approaches to address issue priorities and help develop results-based accountability measures.

One of the main priorities of the task force will be obtain community input at every step, Packett said. A communitywide survey will be available on the organization’s website, and a series of community conversations will be held across the county beginning this summer.

“Community input is an important and necessary component of a successful transition to collective impact. We want to know the issues that community members see and care about,” she said.

Since United Way of Florence County was founded more than 65 years ago, it has operated under the community chest model.

The organization funds 22 nonprofit partners and 30 community programs in the areas of education, health and financial stability, although declining contributions in recent years have reduced its ability to provide support. Communities that have adopted the collective impact model have seen substantial increases in giving and a more demonstrable community impact, Packett said.

“This transition is going to change the way we talk about United Way and the work we do, and I can’t wait to have that conversation,” she said.

For more information about the collective impact model or United Way of Florence County, contact Cameron Packett at cpackett@uwflorence.org or 843-662-2407.

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