This week is a week of new beginnings for thousands of homes across our regional footprint. This week begins the start of a new school year for K-12 in Alachua County and beyond, as well as the start of a new semester for the 50,000-plus students who call Gainesville home for their college years. It's also the beginning of a new campaign season for United Way.
As our staff shared their divisional updates in our meeting this week, staffer after staffer expressed their excitement for how they see the scope of their work transforming from transactional to relational. The days of simply asking for a donation are dead at United Way, and we cannot be more overjoyed. That's because the opportunity that lies ahead for our community is one based solely on relationships. 

Think about that. Are you more apt to give or volunteer because you are asked or because you are connected to the person or cause in which you are being asked to support? Of course, the answer is, we are all motivated by personal relationships. We give more when we see the value of our contributions. We do more when we know our efforts are making a difference. We believe more when we see what it means to lift each other up.
New research on the disruptive waves in charitable giving generated mostly by Millennials shows that, among other things, people today are motivated by tangible results, meaning they want to "see, taste and feel" the impact of their work. We understand that, which is why we launched United Way Express, a hands-on tour of agencies in action, where donors and prospective givers can see their dollars at work. Another disrupter in the past decade is technology. The explosion of mobile phones and social media have made it easier to give to any cause, on the fly, and in a snap - and that means we have to be flexible in how we reach donors to connect them to local causes worthy of their time and money.
Finally, the way we work has changed and is continuing to evolve. We are in our third year of the Small Business Partnership - a vibrant group of local business owners whose investments in our Community Investment Fund are vetted, leveraged and local. 

We are excited for the future, not simply because new beginnings are inherently exciting, but because we know we will continue to be better by innovating and forming new relationships that will dramatically improve the lives of people living and working in our community. We want to know that we take what we do very personally - and hope you do, too.

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

United Way
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