June 1, 2017; Chicago Tribune
After running a deficit of a little more than $1 million in 2016, The United Way of Metropolitan Chicago is laying off 20 staff members, or around 17 percent of staff. As readers may recall, this comes shortly after staff layoffs at the Greater Twin Cities United Way, also following a revenue downturn.
Both have put the requisite positive spin on the move. In Chicago, that sounds like:
“At this juncture in the organization’s history we have identified that there is an opportunity to transform the organization by employing contemporary communication, fundraising, technology, and operational strategies,” said CEO Wendy DuBoe in a statement emailed to Crain’s. “As a result we have restructured our operations to leverage these new strategies and to maximize our commitment to building stronger communities in the broader Chicago region.”
It says it is also starting a new program, Stronger Neighborhoods for a Stronger Chicago Region, intended to “address the needs of individuals and families to build strong households and improve the quality of life and the economy for the entire region.”
The organization has not had an easy time of it in the past year, having suffered the exodus of five executives in a 10-month period, but we also wonder if this will be a more widespread trend in the workplace solicitation campaign. As we wrote in October of last year,
This is a high-touch method of intermediation, one whose receipts have declined by a third over the past 25 years. That’s no surprise, considering the ease with which nonprofits can be researched and gifts given these days, along with the workplace and corporate changes affecting the success of the United Way model. The organization has attempted to block this decline in various ways over that period by reinventing itself—creating funding agendas for communities and increasing its focus on large donors—but it is leaking for reasons probably more associated with an epochal shift than with focus or capacity.