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CASE 18 :: UNITED WAY WORLDWIDE C143 * By Professor Alan B. Eisner of Pace University, Associate Professor Pauline Assenza of Western Connecticut State University, and graduate students Luz Barrera and Dev Das of Pace University. This case is based upon public documents and was developed for class discussion rather than to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of the situation. This research was supported in part by the Wilson Center for Social Entrepreneurship, Pace University. Copyright © 2015 Alan B. Eisner. In early 2015, United Way Worldwide hoped the recently concluded holiday season would have generated more contributions and provided a much-needed boost to the nonprofit’s sagging revenues. 1 Stacey D. Stewart, the orga- nization’s U.S. president, had earlier appealed to holiday shoppers to consider the true meaning of the holidays. “Black Friday and Cyber Monday mark the beginning of the holiday shopping season,” she had said. “Over the next several weeks—as we navigate mall parking lots, fill our shopping carts and test our patience in check-out lines— let’s not lose sight of what’s behind this excitement. It all comes down to the simple act of giving.” The organization had been hit particularly hard during the economic downturn in prior years, and contributions had yet to pick up after economists announced a rebound. Chari- table giving usually rose about one-third as fast as the stock market. 2 United Way Missouri chapter executive director Tim Rich mourned the fact that a perfect storm of factors was causing the surge in need. “We’re seeing stagnated wages, jobs with fewer hours and less pay, church giving is down,” Rich said. ”It’s just harder to write a check right now.” This challenging dynamic was reflective of United Way chapters all around the country. 3 The continued trend—reduction in giving, increase in need—had earlier prompted United Way to change its strategy. 4 On July 1, 2009, United Way of America (UWA) changed its name to United Way World- wide (UWW) and merged with United Way International (UWI). UWW initiated a 10-year program, “Live United,” focused less on distribution of funds and more on advanc- ing the common good by addressing underlying causes of problems in the core areas of education, financial stability, and health. Yet with positive financial results still seemingly nonexistent, would donors finally become reenergized and create real change in the communities United Way served, or had universal struggles weakened the ability and eager- ness to donate of even those most able to do so? UWW provided support for over 1,800 local United Way members or affiliates operating in 41 countries. 5 These local organizations relied on their respective par- ents for resources such as leadership education, public policy advocacy, marketing support, and standards for ethical governance and financial reporting. United Ways worldwide were part of a federation of nonprofits formed by caring people to serve the needs of their communities.

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