Thursday, February 24, 2005


United Way - Young Leaders Society

Right Idea, Wrong Implementation. The United Way is missing something, and that's the idea that the best way to build long term philanthropic partners is not to ask them to dig as deep as they can early in their careers, it's to get them involved in their community. The Young Leaders Society is a great idea that just has the wrong focus.

The article is 100% focused on $ contributions. The fact of the matter is that young professionals have a lot of talent, many come from a background in high school and college of leadership, and they don't get to exploit that when they start at the bottom of the business world. However, they can continue to build their leadership skills through community involvement. Taking leadership positions and helping to drive results at an early age when they have both time and drive. Leave it to the older generation who may not have the enthusiasm nor the time (with long work hours, and children) for volunteering, to open those checkbooks wide. Let the younger generation focus on getting their hands dirty in the community and building their ties to all these great United Way funded groups. So that when the time runs thin, but the bank account is larger, the first thing they will think to do with that extra cash is to donate it to the charities and groups they grew up volunteering with.

Only once in the entire article do they even mention community service:

"Young Leaders also help at charity events. The community involvement has its own rewards. "

Which is promptly followed up with:
"It gives us the opportunity to meet very influential people in the community," Klein said.

Again.. .missing the point. The reason to volunteer in the community is not to meet influential people. The reason you paint a school, attend a children's carnival, work a soup kitchen, build a house is TO HELP THE PEOPLE THAT NEED HELP!

I love the United Way, and I myself donate through my work United Way Campaign. The money is important, and the agencies that UW supports are fantastic (for the most part), but if the UW wants to capture the next generation, quit talking about Leadership Giving Levels, Networking and Suggested Giving, and start talking about the community, volunteering and taking an active role in community organizations.

Rant complete.....

There is an alternative to the United Way...a very worthy organization called Community Shares. More info on them and their members here:
Cinti Shares looks like a decent organization, lots of nice programs. (Though I don't much care for their support of planned parenthood). Be Sure to check out for young professional leadership/volunteer opportunities.
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