WinBack: Important, not Urgent

Steven Covey popularized the Eisenhower Method for time management/ decision making in the 1994 book: First Things First, distinguishing between the important and the urgent. Earlier this week, United Way Worldwide shared the most recent fundraising results from the 2014 fall campaign: US giving is down another $48 million (-1%). And while the rate of loss of individual donors is slowing, United Ways lost another 370,000 donors last year. This is on top of a 30% decline in United Way donors over the prior 8 years. Overall, there are nearly 4 million fewer donors than a decade ago. For any other business, the loss of over 30-35% of your customer base would be considered a “burning platform”. Yet, in my conversations with many United Way executives, there is very little visibility/action on this issue. Why is this? United Ways are in the midst of a massive reinvention: focusing the community on a handful of significant challenges to improve the human condition locally. This work is positioning the organization from a classic “middleman” to valuable community partner. Diversifying partnerships and revenue sources to move the needle is hard, difficult and time consuming work. Yet, I recall a wise and experienced United Way leader who once shared with me after a lengthy strategic planning session early in my career: “It’s one thing to aspire to change the world. But, if you don’t deliver results on growing resources, it is only but a dream.” Important words indeed to me, in my then role as Resource Development leader. Yet, I believe there is an essential truth here as well. It requires significant resources...