Attracting and Developing Young Board Leaders at United Way of Abilene
By: Ruth McCambridge
A conscious pursuit of younger board members has combined with clear expectations to help the United Way of Abilene evolve into a stronger organization that meets the needs of the West Central Texas residents it serves as well as the people who serve on its board.
This evolution has come in part as a result of its leader’s recognition that change was needed. Several years ago, CEO Cathy Ashby noted that her organization lacked young donors. Knowing that demographic would be integral to growing the organization and increasing its revenue, she sought to remedy this shortcoming.
The organization she was working to change had a long record of success. Founded in 1956, the United Way of Abilene serves 19 counties in West Central Texas and works with 27 partner agencies. Focusing on the building blocks of life—education, income, and health—it seeks to collaborate with the community to create lasting change.
The residents of the community it serves love their city and want to serve. In fact, the city of approximately 100,000 supports more than 600 nonprofits, meaning residents have plenty of opportunities to engage and serve. Young people, in particular, have responded, and Ashby wants them to see the United Way as a leading opportunity for service.
To achieve this, she and her board took a number of steps.
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