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The View From 10,000 Feet

Cape & Plymouth Business Magazine

November 2015

The Last Word

Barbara Milligan

President & CEO, Cape and Islands United Way

The View From 10,000 Feet

The number of people living in poverty in our region is rising rapidly. Homelessness is an escalating crisis. Many of our families and young adults can no longer afford to live here. Substance abuse is a pervasive issue, extracting a mounting toll.

These issues are interconnected in a very complex way. What’s clear from our birds-eye view of the nonprofit sector on Cape Cod is that these community challenges cannot be addressed by any single organization. A collective vision, collaborative effort and cross-sector approach is required.

With this in mind, the Cape and Islands United Way is unveiling our new Community Impact Agenda. This agenda, the result of months of research and interviews, represents our first steps toward institutionalizing the need for long-term, collective solutions. With this initiative, we begin to articulate a larger community vision in our focus areas of health, education, financial stability and housing. And we also begin our own journey to robustly collaborate with other funders and key organizations to identify mutual goals, develop shared measurements, and encourage a lean and strategically-aligned nonprofit sector. This move toward collective impact will be a journey of years, not months, and will push us to reach deep, remain flexible, take risks, measure our work
and communicate aggressively.

The mission of the Cape and Islands United Way is to improve lives and strengthen communities on Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. We are the largest funder of human services on the Cape, raising in excess of $1 million annually to invest right here. With the acquisition of Cape Cod Volunteers earlier this year, we now also have the benefit of leveraging human capital to advance issues. Last year, nearly 250,000 volunteer hours were logged on capecodvolunteers.org. This translates into $5.7 million of human resources for our local nonprofits.

At the heart of it all, the Cape and Islands United Way is a family – of donors, businesses and volunteers; of citizens who care and want to make a difference. Our family includes a dedicated board of directors, committed community impact volunteers, and nearly 150 business partners who provide support through corporate sponsorships, workplace campaigns, and essential in-kind goods and services. While we are not a typical United Way − in that we don’t rely on workplace campaigns as our central revenue stream − employee campaigns remain important to our efforts. (Having a deduction come right out of your paycheck to change lives is a mighty easy way to give back!) We’re truly grateful to all of the businesses who are part of our family and make this work possible, and we welcome conversations about how you might join this movement and become involved.

I am energized by the opportunities that this 10,000-foot view provides to strengthen our communities. And I’m heartened by the spirit of collaboration that is now in evidence across the sector. Organizations are putting in the time, sharing the stage, letting go of well-protected turf, and contemplating mergers and strategic alliances to focus resources. It’s exciting to be part of this growing cooperative effort and to know that, together, we really are a powerful force for change.