Agenda for Lasting Change
Agenda for Lasting Change Vision
The United Way will be a community leader in:
identifying the priority issues on which action is required
to improve people’s lives; develop targeted, comprehensive
plans for action that will lead to defined outcomes; and
United Way will commit to specific roles, as a leader and a
partner, in executing those plans.
United Way of Bemidji Area
will devote resources over the next 4 years to the Agenda
for Lasting Change, a transition plan to focus our
efforts around community goals, strategies and indicators of
success for changing community conditions and improving
lives in long-lasting, meaningful and measurable ways.
The Agenda for
Lasting Change plan will:
identify specific goals with key measures
for our community based on critical needs in the areas of
education, income and health;
build on existing community strengths and
address gaps and
redundancies in services;
identify the right
multi-dimensional strategies that will address community
issues; influence community conditions and improve lives;
connect program outcome measurement to
community impact work, recognizing that tracking and
measuring both program and community level/systemic
progress are needed to create community change.
The Agenda is designed to be fluid and ever-evolving – we
know we will want to refine the Agenda with new learning and
ongoing monitoring of community conditions and issues.
During the process, we will foster discussion among our
agency and community partners and seek input to strengthen
the focus of the work.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will United Way still
support local nonprofits?
Yes, United Way will
continue to invest in local nonprofit programs and services
that align with the community goals, but it will only be one
strategy we take in making progress toward a community goal.
The new model calls for us to work with organizations,
systems, neighborhoods and personal networks as a partner to
affect change. Along the way, we will measure our
progress and report the results.
Why change to a
community impact model?
United Way no longer wants our success to be
defined by how much money we raised in the campaign.
Fundraising will be a means but not the end.
We want success to be defined by how much
progress did we make as a community and what measurable
changes occurred to improve lives and we want to be
able to answer that question with precision because we have
established the community impact measures that enable us to
measurement going to cost nonprofits more administrative
time and money?
Good measurement systems/models do take time, strong
leadership on-going training/development, and an
understanding of how to use the outcomes to increase the
effectiveness of programs. United Way believes in
supporting agencies through the process - providing on-going
training and technical assistance. Outcome measurement
doesn't have to be cumbersome, overly time consuming, cost
additional resources or become a burden for agencies.
We recognize that agencies are already doing a lot with a
little. But we also feel it is a nonprofit’s
fundamental responsibility is to continually strive towards
its mission, and in doing so it must track its progress with
ongoing outcome measurement.
The following is an excerpt taken from the article
Outcome Measurement Now More Than Ever by Hedda Rublin,
which we feel does a great job in explaining the benefits of
Such an effort is critical to ensuring an organization’s
accountability to all of its important stakeholders,
including the individuals it seeks to serve, the communities
in which it operates, and the institutions and individuals
who support its efforts with monetary and volunteer
resources. Outcomes measurement can also help an
organization achieve other important objectives:
It helps an organization measure its
success. When clearly tied to an organization’s core
purpose, ongoing outcomes measurement helps the nonprofit
assess how successful its efforts have been; identify
where significant problems exist; and motivate staff to
strive for continuous service improvement. Effective
performance measures can energize an organization, shift
or create a new focus, define resource allocation, and
communicate to all key stakeholders – from volunteers to
staff to board members – where an organization is headed.
It allows an organization to focus its
resources to achieve the greatest impact. This process
is particularly critical in a time of scarce resources,
helping an organization do more with less, and make a more
powerful case for additional funds. It allows a nonprofit
to streamline its programs to be their most effective,
determine which areas could be scaled back for cost
savings with minimal impact on effectiveness, and
demonstrate the organization’s impact to funders.
It enables an organization to be more
competitive in its quest for funding. If done well,
outcomes measurement can also help a nonprofit distinguish
itself in an increasingly competitive funding environment.
Tangible outcomes data demonstrates to funders the real
impact that an organization is having, that it has clear
and realistic program objectives, and that it is able to
adapt its programs over time to achieve the greatest
It informs better program planning.
A well-planned program will naturally lend itself to a
system for measuring outcomes. In light of this, as you
plan your programs, also develop your outcomes measures.
There can be no effective program planning without a
consideration of that program’s core objectives and a
means for measuring progress against those objectives. In
designing programs, nonprofit leaders must ask themselves
from the outset “Did we meaningfully improve people’s
lives in a way that we can measure?” If they do not, they
will run the risk of trying to demonstrate program success
by answering the less-compelling question, “How busy were
It lets an organization – not its
funders – define outcomes. Nonprofits that fail
to assert their own accountability agendas may find that
they have outcomes defined for them by grantmakers as a
condition of funding. Often, donors can be overly
optimistic regarding the impact that a single organization
can have. We would encourage all organizations to be
proactive and manage funders’ expectations. Define for
yourselves what success would look like for your
organization, and engage your
funders in a dialogue about your programs’ core objectives
and how you will measure your progress.
Will United Way's investments
in partner agencies be solely based on good outcome
No. We want to work
with agencies to establish good measurement systems and make
this an easy process so they can be successful in spending
their time and money wisely on improving the effectiveness
of their programs. We will review other important criteria
and take into account the very real variability among
programs, when making investment decisions.
Impact Solution Teams
Solution Teams act as the United Way of Bemidji Area’s advisory
group, helping to develop United Way’s blueprint for Advancing
the Common Good, long-term community impact plan that includes
strategies, targets and expected outcomes in creating
opportunities for everyone to have a quality life by focusing on
the building blocks - education, income and health.
Engaged year-round, the solution teams serve as a primary
vehicle for mobilizing the Bemidji community and for integrating
the full potential of resources and assets in accomplishing the
mission and vision of United Way of Bemidji Area.
Julie Johnson, Headstart
Kathy Palm, ISD 31
Tom Kusler, Retired ISD 31
Boys and Girls Club
Mick Marino, Evergreen
Gary Russell, Evergreen
Robin Helgager, Civil Air Patrol
Rebecca Snyder, BASC
Chelsea Oldham, Kraus Anderson
Steve Hanson, Timber Bay
Sexual Assault Program
Lutheran Social Services
Jeanne Edevold Larson,
Northern Dental Access Center
Warren Larson, Sanford Health
Linda Yourczek, Beltrami County Health and Human
Mary Fairbanks, BSU Dept. of Nursing
Becky Secore, BASC
Rita Baird, North Country Hospice
Deb Miller, Upper Mississippi
Cindi Lee Jernigan,
Jill Naylor Yarger, Bemidji Area
Gloria Joy, Bemidji Community
Jim Sutton, RiverWood Bank
Jillian Bakke, Knife River Materials
Aria Trudeau, Family Advocacy Center
Randy McKain, Bemidji Community Food Shelf
John Pugleasa, Beltrami
County Health and Human Services
Wendy Noren, Beltrami County Health and Human Services
Wanda Melgaard, MN Workforce
Geri Hickerson, Northwoods
Habitat for Humanity
Rebecca Hoffman, Evergreen
Ruth Sherman, Community
Jackie Meixner, Headwaters Regional Development