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United Way Worldwide Restructures, With A Focus On Global Reach And Getting Involved

"Business strategy and social impact are a powerful combination, especially when companies fully align and integrate the two," says Barry Salzberg, the newly named chairman of the board of United Way Worldwide (UWW) and global chief executive officer at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (DTTL). 

If you’re as surprised as I was to hear United Way described as a global NGO, this is actually recent and big news. In the past couple of months, UWW has been raising the volume on its new identity which had been in the works since 2009 when UW restructured the organization. They flipped United Way’s international agency from being an affiliate of United Way of America to being the parent corporation, as UWW. The plan was to build a major global presence in order to partner with international corporations seeking to establish and implement worldwide corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs.

Today, nearly 120 corporations are part of UWW’s Global Corporate Leadership (GCL) program. Approximately 60% of GCL companies are on the global Fortune 500 list. UWW has 1,800 community-based organizations throughout the world; 1,200 are in the U.S. and 600 are in 41 countries around the globe.

UWW: Transforming its role to global social impact in education, income, and health

"We had been a fundraising organization. We are transforming ourselves to be conveners and facilitators of multiple stakeholders—businesses, governments, NGOs, and others—for the purpose of improving people’s lives," explained Salzberg. 

Brian Gallagher is president and CEO of UWW. He described UWW’s three areas of focus: education, income, and health. "Each community throughout the world customizes the goals based on their needs,"explained Gallagher.

Fundraising does continue to be a vital aspect of UWW's work. They raised $3.9 billion in the U.S. in 2011 and $1.1 billion outside of the U.S.; UWW uses 13% of the funds for its operating expenses.

Salzberg's advice to young professionals and executives: Volunteer!

Salzberg talks passionately about his own volunteer experiences, which began later in his career. He encourages others to start early. "Although I always contributed financially, I didn’t realize how useful I could be as a volunteer," he said. "Once I started, I was really hooked." He first became involved as a board member with the YMCA of Greater New York, which Salzberg was later asked to chair. "From the beginning it was an unbelievable experience. I loved the mission and the work." Next he joined the Jackie Robinson Foundation, which he also enjoyed "immensely." He’s now chairman of College Summit.

"Before volunteering, I thought that all I could do was give and raise money. That’s important and I'm happy to do that. But then that morphs into intellectual capacity and idea generation, and then pro bono service, and that becomes very meaningful," said Salzberg. "It's become a way of life."

Salzberg likens his role as chairman of UWW to his role as global CEO of DTTL. "I'm seeing similarities in leading a network of member firms around the world," said Salzberg. "In each case, the network of firms function independently, yet share the same mission, methodology, and commitment to clients."

When I asked him if he brings what he learns from his volunteer experiences back to his work at Deloitte, he grinned and said, "You're always learning. You're always bringing it back."

"We want to make it easy for people to become involved."

Once he became a service-booster, Salzberg determined to make it easy for everyone and anyone at his firm to engage as well. Salzberg credits Evan Hochberg, national director, community involvement, Deloitte Services LP, with building the firm's leading community investment initiative, including a centerpiece program for "skills-based" volunteering.

UWW: Helping you and your company to get involved

UWW seeks to make it easy for individuals and companies to engage in improving the world. Here's what they suggest:

1) Look into UWW's Affinity Groups, such as

2) Sign up for opportunities for individuals and companies to volunteer

3) Join in this Thursday, June 21, for UWW's Day of Action.

[Image: Courtesy United Way Worldwide]