Driving Innovation at United Way

As the world’s largest nonprofit, United Way is a trusted partner by more than 400 of the Fortune 500. These corporate partnerships flourish because United Way is highly effective at  stewarding corporate philanthropy towards meaningful results. But internal reporting indicated United Way’s corporate partners were looking for more from the partnership — they needed a trusted philanthropic adviser and solution provider in employee engagement, reputation, and impact.

From the premise of ‘How might we become a trusted philanthropic adviser and solution provider to our corporate partners?’ we identified the SDGs as a promising idea.

The global goals are the greatest opportunity of our lifetime but they cannot succeed without business leadership. Yet many US corporations don’t see a clear path of how to deliver global impact while upholding their CSR commitments. United Way is already managing the complexity of delivering impact on a global scale.

With that in mind I applied to the +Acumen Earned Income Accelerator program. We were accepted into the program and I conducted an open-call across the organization to find new allies beyond the usual high-performers. After completing 20 interviews I formed the project team and guided us through the 6 week program. We continually tested our idea for desirability (is this a real need in the market), feasibility (can we implement it) and viability (can we sustain the idea financially).

Leveraging United Way’s connections we conducted interviews with the CEO of Honest Tea, the VP of CSR at Kellogg’s, the VP of Sustainability for CBRE, and the VP of Impact for Turner Broadcasting. In each case we honed our vision. 

The outcome was consulting service designed to accelerate business outcomes through the sustainable development goals. The SDGs represent how the world measures impact on a global scale, but they are also complex at the measures level. From interviews with CSR leaders at global corporations we learned that because of this complexity many corporations are uncertain about how to map the goals to their activities. 

Sustainability is in United Way’s DNA. For 130 years, United Way has strengthened communities around the world. The organization builds stronger communities at an unmatched scale, impacting millions of lives every year through early childhood success, youth opportunity, economic mobility and access to health. Annually, United Way invests $5B dollars through 1800 local United Ways located in 40 countries working with 60,000 corporate partners, 280 Fortune 500 companies, 8 million donors and 3 million volunteers.  

When it comes to delivering impact in local communities at scale, no other organization has the expertise and success of United Way. The SDG Accelerator consulting service is designed to bring that same expertise to corporate partners.

SDG Accelerator 2018 Pitch Deck