It has been awhile since my last blog post on February 13, 2013. A lot has happened in that time. One of the best things was a recent trip to Indianapolis, IN. The United Way Worldwide Staff Leaders Conference was held there on April 17-19, 2013. After eight years of being here at United Way, this was my first big conference. I had gone to a couple of other smaller events sponsored by United Way of America, but this was the first big one. I walked away with a whole bunch of new resources and am incredibly motivated to continue doing the work that I do, which focuses on our Financial Stability Partnership here at United Way of the Greater Triangle.
Having worked professionally in nonprofit organizations for the last 23 years, I appreciate being a part of a larger network of organizations that are trying to do good work throughout the country. I use the word network very deliberately, as that is a focus of how the United Way of America is wanting to move their agenda for the common good forward. There is an overwhelming commitment within the United Way system to acknowledge and use this network for the purposes of improving people’s lives. With a national organization, statewide associations, and local affiliates all over the country, the power of this network was apparent to me as I attended the many breakout sessions and keynote addresses.
First and foremost, a network like this can share knowledge and experience. I don’t believe that there are too many “new ideas.” Someone, somewhere, in some other part of the country has probably tried something similar to what I want to try and accomplish here in the Triangle. That is a great advantage, because I don’t have to waste my time and energy on the start-up strategies. I can replicate a strategy and then spend time modifying and improving it so that it fits here locally.
Another thing that the network does, is that it helps create a common language across the country, particularly when it comes to measuring our performance and effectiveness. As more agencies within the network identify indicators and performance metrics, it helps each of our communities define what is important and measureable. This then sets the stage for ensuring that all of us are doing the right things and doing them well.
Finally, I appreciate the fact that a network helps others within the network. In some ways it goes back to the old cliché that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. The emphasis to encourage organizational development and improvement is a key to the success of the entire system. By ensuring that all parts of the network are strong, we ensure that we really can improve lives.
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