Greater Ottawa County United Way and Allegan County United Way partner to enhance community impact

In June of 2016, the Allegan County United Way (ACUW) began the search for new executive leadership. The ACUW Board of Directors chose to hire an interim director to support them in making the best possible decision to achieve their goal of becoming a ‘community impact leader.’ This allowed the board the opportunity to explore multiple options that would give ACUW the capacity to move forward with the goals of serving Allegan County and assuring the viability and sustainability of ACUW. ACUW engaged in several months of discussion with local partners and neighboring United Ways. Greater Ottawa County United Way (GOCUW) successfully made the transition to become a community impact organization as part of their county wide merger more than a decade ago, and during discussions ACUW and GOCUW realized that there was much to be gained for our local communities by working together in certain areas to achieve common community goals.

The ACUW and GOCUW boards decided, after careful consideration, to establish a partnership that includes sharing a combination of administrative, leadership and back office functions between the two United Ways. This will allow for even greater impact in each community. Each United Way remains separate and under the control of their respective board of directors, with the front line staff staying local to their respective United Way. Shared functions will include accounting, pledge processing, human resources, some leadership functions and data/IT sharing. This partnership allows each organization to increase the focus on front line community impact, as well as benefitting from each other’s knowledge and expertise.

Sarah Lilly and Roger Reimink, board chairs for GOCUW and ACUW respectively, couldn’t be happier with the partnership. Sarah Lilly said, “This partnership allows us to focus our resources on what matters - serving people in our community.” The shared services agreement begins January 3, 2017, and will be in place for three years. At that time, both United Way organizations will decide whether to continue the contract based on the effectiveness of the partnership. For more information, or to give, advocate or volunteer in your community, call Patrick Moran at 616-396-7811.