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United Way of Collier and the Keys Q&A

We are excited about the upcoming merger of United Way of the Florida Keys and United Way of Collier County and hope that this provides more information on this collaboration.

Will there be a new entity? Yes, as of April 2020, a new organization, named United Way of Collier and the Keys, will assume all responsibilities of the United Way of Collier County and United Way of the Florida Keys. Our commitment to those we serve, our donors and the local communities will not change. 

What does United Way hope to accomplish?  The fundamental reason for this new model is simple: together, the two organizations can make more of a meaningful, lasting impact in the lives of those most in need across the two similar counties by sharing resources, talent, relationships, and best practices. This unification will allow us to increase our operational efficiency and streamline duplicated internal processes, ultimately resulting in more dollars available to strengthen communities in our region.  This will help us achieve our mission, and grow our impact.

Our focus is on the future and how our combined efforts can and will change the Collier and Monroe County communities for the better; we are about local impact powered by regional collaboration. We have a shared purpose which this will only strengthen; together we will improve the lives of ALICE residents now and for the next generation.

Will money raised continue to be used locally? Yes, the intent of the donor remains first and foremost. The underlying premise of serving the local community does not change; funding will still be directed to creating change in our communities and serving local residents the same way it’s always been. Each county’s local volunteers will continue to assess needs, review agencies, and make local funding and programming recommendations.

While we are consolidating our internal operations, the majority of our external activities will remain the same. 

How was this decision made?  United Way of Collier County and United Way of the Florida Keys board members both understood the benefits of such a union and sought to bring the organizations together creating United Way of Collier and the Keys. This follows almost a year of productive discussions and collaborations between both United Ways. These changes have been encouraged by stakeholders from both counties. It has also been endorsed by United Way Worldwide. 

What will happen between now and then?  Implementation efforts have already begun. In the coming months, the two United Ways will continue to work together to create the best possible system by building on the strengths of all.  In addition, both United Ways are moving toward the transition of board and committee structure, organizational functions, etc over the next year.

What are the concerns for merging? There may be concerns about losing local voice of our communities, or losing the local impact in our areas.  We have been and will continue working hard to create a centralized organization while still focusing on addressing the varying needs of both diverse local counties. 

How will this affect the campaign and our corporate partners? The merger will enable United Way to serve donors in an even more efficient manner and give donors a more compelling reason to support United Way because more of their dollar will be spent directly on increasing impact in the community. 

Our new model will allow us to provide a richer, more rewarding donor experience. Previously, several corporate and workplace donors interacted with both United Ways. By becoming one, United Way of Collier and the Keys will offer a seamless experience for those donors.

What is the reaction of the donor community? Donors continue to seek efficiency so their dollar goes further. To meet this demand, United Ways are always seeking to streamline operations while also gaining capacity. This is one more step we can take towards this and ultimately creating greater impact.

Many identify with an emerging collaborative trend for organizations, including United Ways and our corporate partners, as greater operational efficiencies and economies of scale are sought to achieve more impact.  

Who will be the leadership of the new organization?  United Way of Collier County’s President/CEO, Steve Sanderson, will be President/CEO of the new organization.  Leah Stockton, current President/CEO with United Way of the Florida Keys, will continue her work, now as the Keys Area President. Current staff will continue working from local offices. 

Current board members will now serve on Local Advisory Boards that are being created as a crucial component in each county to identify community needs and spearhead local work.

Leaders from Monroe and Collier County will also serve on the new United Way of Collier and the Keys Board of Directors, ensuring representation from businesses and individuals from both markets.

Will this affect the distribution of funds?  The local distribution of funds will remain as it always has been for this year’s funding cycle and current standing agreements will not be affected. Funding decisions for agency allocations will be made at the recommendation of each county’s Local Advisory Boards.  As always, they will determine the best use of the donors’ dollars based on need and results when reviewing grants. 

What are the similarities between Monroe and Collier Counties?  Collier and Monroe Counties have many similarities, including, unfortunately, facing many of the same challenges, such as income inequality, high cost of living and expensive housing. Collaboration will allow us to better address the very real barriers faced by our residents as we know need doesn’t stop at the county line and together we will seek solutions needed for our unique communities. 

Goals aligning with our shared focus on increasing stability for ALICE residents will continue to be developed by the new organization.  

We look forward to a bright future together as we Live United in Collier and the Keys.