The United way is one of the largest nonprofit organizations in the world. United way has been engaging communities in more than 40 countries. The organization is currently serving about 1800 communities. United way is known for their focus on the creation of community-based organizations that help in strengthening the health, financial stability and even the quality of life of the communities. United way envisions a universe where all communities are strong, and they have jobs that will enhance good lives, schools, and even healthy environments. The organization has been engaging people all over the world so that they can come up with ways that would help in the transformation of the organization vision into the reality. The paper will lay a focus on the united way where the SWOT and AI approach of the organization will also be discussed. In addition, the paper will also explain the need for the strategic change in the organization.


The United Way

The organization was started in 1887 by church leaders who started the charity organization society. The organization was responsible for the coordination as well as the fundraising activities. There were many community chest organizations that were formed in the twentieth century, and they were charged with the role of collecting and allocating money. These organizations joined the American Association for community organizations (United way). The number of community chests organizations was increasing from 1919 through 1929 and as at 1948; the organizations had increased to 1000. The chest organizations were merged in 1948 to form the United Foundation. Several name changes occurred. The organization changed to the united way of America in 1970. In the first, 100 years of its operations, the organization had expanded to 20 countries. From 1990, the United ways have expanded to 25 more nations. The organization is mainly driven by volunteers and professional leaders who have been key pillars in steering the organization forward. United Way work through the local leaders where they identify the needs of the community and then develop strategies that would help individuals to achieve economic success, education achievement, and even healthy lives. The organization has been engaged in a series of community needs assessments where the locals identify the challenges that they are facing. The United way also organizes fundraisings where all the people irrespective of their economic status are encouraged to give so that the organization can deliver the services to the people. Information exchange has also been a critical aspect of the united way. The organization encourages information exchanges and referrals and it is very committed to fostering commitment and collaboration among organizations and service agencies. As a way of ensuring that there is accountability, the organization exercises very strict financial controls. There is strict adherence to the budget that has been set, and the budget is set by the results of the needs assessment so that only the priorities are addressed. The idea of participation is also paramount in United way. There is a lot of emphasis on engaging the local leaders, and the various stakeholders in the process of the implementing the projects so that all players can take an active role in the solving of the existing problems.

Why United way needs strategic change

Every organization needs to adopt a change, and the United Way is not an exception. In the case of United Way, change is an inevitable thing. The organization needs a strategic change so that it can cope with the dynamics that are occurring in the philanthropy sector. Over the years, there have been a lot of changes in philanthropy which has had significant impacts on the organization. For example, the fundraising targets are not achieved. Many people are not giving as it was the case before. Most of the organizations have refrained from participating in philanthropy, and they have left philanthropy as an individual affair. These dynamics are affecting united way to a big extent since the organization does not have enough funds. On the other hand, the church attendance is also declining. People no longer go to churches in large numbers as it was the case before and therefore the donations are declining. The society lays a lot of expectations to the united way, and the organization is expected to perform and deliver to the people irrespective of the challenges at hand. United way, therefore, needs a strategic change so that it can resolve these issues and continue delivering services to the community. It must come up with new strategies of fundraising that will ensure that the organization has enough resources to deliver services to the people. On the other hand, the organization has had a negative publicity in the past. This has been affecting the organization to a big extent. The popularity of the organization has declined, and even companies that used to invite the organization for presentation do not hold such presentation now. The United way needs a strategic change so that it can revive its image as well as inform people on whom they are and their mission. Finally, there is a need for strategic change in the United way since the community needs are changing. The United way needs a strategic change to come up with ways of solving evolving challenges in the communities they serve.

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SWOT Analysis


The United way is one of the organizations that pride to have the lowest costs of overheads. The organization relies on the volunteers who help it in delivering its mandate. It is one of the organizations that have been hailed for effective management of funds and it has very strong financial controls. United Way is known to use less than 10 percent of overheads.

The strength of the organization is that it is one of the large organizations that have the highest financial strength in terms of dollars raised.

The strength of the organization is that the organization is known for its commitment to assist the communities in solving the existing problems.


The main weakness is that the United way failed to meet the mandate of 90 cents of every dollar must be allocated to the local agencies. Another weakness is that the organization failed to meet the requirements of the better business bureau review that were set for charitable organizations.

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The organization receives donations from sectoral organizations and a number of donor agencies.

Other opportunities are a good response from the communities, and this means that the organization fundraising is likely to be a success.

The organization support is growing day by day with increasing support from social media. This could spell good news to the United way as it will reach out to many people.


The most significant threats are the issues of sustainability since the organization has limited resources and it may not run the projects that it has set for long. The change in the government policies such as the recent change in the reduction of deduction under Pease provision.

The reduction in the church attendance also poses a significant threat since the organization used to rely on the funds from Christians (United way).

The SWOT analysis reveals that the organization has shown a lot of commitment to changing the lives of communities. However, it has been facing significant threats because of the reduced number of donors. The results of the SWOT analysis could impact strategic change since, without enough resources, strategic planning cannot succeed.

Appreciative inquiry

Discovery stage

At this stage, the main aim was to identify the most important milestones that they have accomplished in their philanthropy. It was found that the organization has played a critical role in promoting education. It reported the highest rate of high school graduation of 81 percent. Ensuring that young people start education at the best age is also a core indicator of how the organization has performed to its best. The middle school success, as well as transitions that were reported in Spain and France, is also some of the areas where the organization has performed to its best.


At this stage, people are encouraged to envision the reorganization as if the optimal conditions were achieved. In this stage, it was found that strong collaboration between the communities and the organization was very imperative for the success of the organization. Through collaboration and trust between the various stakeholders will also ensure that the organization achieves its mandate. Going beyond the short-term charity activities could also help the organization in improving the quality of life of individuals.


At this stage, the key processes or elements that are needed for the organization to operate as it has been dreamed are identified. The most critical elements that were identified are the resources, proper identification of the community needs as well as the volunteers. The organization is based on establishing collaboration between the community members, the organization and the donors so as to ensure that the whole team works together to eradicate the existing problems in the society.


In this stage, the organization aspires to reach out to many people through the social media so that they can revive their image. This will also help the organization to get more funding from donors, and the organization will also reach out to many people. It also seeks to recruit more volunteers.

The appreciative model of the United way reveals that United way has had a lot of success especially on the education sector and it has improved the lives of many. The organization needs to establish collaboration between the communities and donors so that they can solve the existing problems together. The destiny of the organization is to reach out to many people so that it can get more volunteers and donors. The results of the AI approach can impact strategic change in many ways. At first, it may delay strategic change since they are so many people who must be consulted for a change to be effected.

Both the SWOT analysis and the AI reveal that united way has been very successful in changing the lives of the communities they serve. However, the results also demonstrate some differences. The SWOT is very specific in identifying the weaknesses and the threats that the organization is facing while the AI is not very specific on that and it mainly focuses on the success of the organization.


United way is one of the largest organizations that have been focusing on solving the communities of the problems. It is an organization that was founded in 1887. It has expanded to 45 countries worldwide. It needs strategic change since it is facing trends such as reduction in donations and changes in community needs. The SWOT and the AI analysis reveal that the organization has been very successful in improving communities. However, the organization also faces challenges such as reduced number of donors and Low Church attendance. There is a need for collaboration between all players as a way of promoting success.