When we think innovation, there probably isn't a company whose name is more synonymous to the word than Google. In less than two decades, the internet search engine has become a living legend and icon of technology, advancement, entrepreneurship and yes, innovation. In just 13 years, Google went from less than 20 employees in 1998 to more than 26,000 in 2011 with workers in more than 60 offices worldwide. If you asked its marketing and advertising team if any principles remained consistent during that explosive period of growth, they would have told you it was a guide Google developed called "The Eight Principles of Innovation." 

Here they are, truncated for reference:
1.     Have a mission that matters
2.     Think big, but start small
3.     Strive for continual innovation, not instant perfection  
4.     Look for ideas everywhere
5.     Share everything
6.     Spark with imagination, fuel with data
7.     Be a platform
8.     Never fail to fail 

What's phenomenal about this list is how interchangeable it is to the evolving work of United Way. As we celebrate 60 years in Alachua County, we celebrate a mission that matters - to positively impact the education, health and financial stability of people living in the region. We are big thinkers in our effort to change the lives of people all over our service area but believe we can only do that through long-term, strategic commitments made through the collective impact of our funded investments. We constantly look for best practices and great ideas about how to make lasting, sustainable and measurable change. We share in the success of our community and celebrate the "wins" no matter how small or incremental as long as we all inch toward the same goals. We understand the value of data. Everything we invest in is based on data. The entire United Way model is a platform for community building, volunteerism and engagement. We know change takes time - sometimes, a long time. We are in it for the long haul. That's why our commitments to improving education, financial stability and health are long-term strategies. It's why we commit three years of funding -- dollars to programs before we ever raise them. United Way donors and volunteers are innovators, building a strong socially-responsive community anchored in hope.
There's a reason we chose innovation as our theme for the Leadership Reception this year, and the Innovation Hub at UF as the location. Gainesville is a perfect example of budding innovation. We lead the state in imagination, raw talent and human capital. Our United Way volunteers have donated nearly $100 million dollars since 1957. Together, we are building an innovative shared value community. Join us as celebrate our success.

Deborah V. Bowie, CCE, IOM
President & Chief Executive Officer

United Way
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