Janet Froetscher, the CEO of the United Way of Greater Chicago, came to speak at our Kellogg class Monday. I was again impressed, not only by Janet, but by what the United Way in Chicago is doing. It has made huge strides in re-empowering communities, in driving performance and outcomes, and in forcing the area's nonprofit community to think differently.
One crux of all this is common information, common indicators, larger databases, and people who are dedicated to sifting through the data to find signficant nuggets.
And, a great outcome of all this work was the community's response to all the victims of Katrina who began showing up two days after the hurricane struck. Janet told us that story and noted that the trust/visibility United Way had built up over the prior three years was put to great use as the UW coordinated the community response.
Yet again, Janet said the magic words---"United Way buys outcomes, we don't fund projects."
If only the rest of the funding world would listen.