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Healthy relationships are good for you — and in my experience, this is as true for companies as it is for people. At Molina Healthcare of Ohio, our involvement with community partners has enhanced our reputation, raised brand awareness, allowed us to model our mission in action and motivated everyone in the company to do our best.

Giving back can improve the bottom line, too. Eighty-two percent of U.S. consumers consider corporate social responsibility when deciding how to spend money, according to a May 2013 Cone Communications study.

If your company is ready to reap more rewards from community partnerships, now is the time. Here are some strategies that can produce excellent results.

Support volunteerism

Encouraging employees to volunteer is great. Making it easy and financially rewarding for them to donate their time and money is even better.

Molina offers volunteer time off, giving employees paid time off to donate 16 hours per year to the charitable institution of their choice. If employees don’t have a group in mind, our Employee Activities Committee identifies opportunities that will be rewarding and convenient, while also serving our membership.

The volunteer time off pays immeasurable dividends in employee pride, community appreciation and positive word of mouth as employees talk up the program — all while helping organizations that serve the greater good.

Donate your expertise

No doubt, there are nonprofit organizations near you that could benefit from your business experience.

We encourage our leaders to get involved; they currently represent eight board seats at various organizations. I, myself, am honored to serve on the board of directors at the Children’s Defense Fund and Hands On Central Ohio. In return for my time, I get to work on projects of personal interest. I’m also able to network with other business leaders who serve on these boards, people I wouldn’t have met otherwise.

Collaborate with like-minded organizations

A way to demonstrate the integrity of your business is to partner with associations that align with your corporate values. Molina works with community organizations to identify a need and then help fill it.

As two organizations that prize healthy living, the YMCA and Molina make perfect partners. Recently, we were able to connect exercise and healthy eating in the minds of kids at the Y’s Saturday Sampler in Cincinnati. Children made smoothies in blenders using “smoothie bikes”— stationary bikes powered by pedaling.

Create your own event

At Molina, as we work with others who serve low-income individuals and families, we often meet people who inspire us.

For the past five years, we’ve been able to shine a light on the good deeds of everyday heroes with our Community Champions Awards. Recipients are voted on by the community, and honored with an awards dinner and a $1,000 grant for the nonprofit of their choice. This special program makes me proud to be a part of Molina Healthcare, while also contributing to the success of the company.


Amy Schultz Clubbs is the plan president of Molina Healthcare of Ohio, the state’s second largest Medicaid Managed Care plan with 262,000 members.

How to reach:

Learn more about Molina Healthcare at:

Twitter: @molinahealth

The world of technology startups is dominated by one overriding characteristic: uncertainty. Uncertainty in marketing, feature sets, customer needs and even in revenue models nip at founders as they strike out and try to create something new.

Uncertainty is not exclusive to young companies, as executives from small businesses to multinational corporations confront the unknown daily. We can wade into the froth of data and events and hope not to be pulled under, or we can employ a technique that compiles the input and processes it in a manageable way — the strategic framework.

In startups, one framework gaining popularity is Lean Startup. For the more seasoned business, frameworks come in all shapes and sizes. Sales alone has hundreds of frameworks for acquiring customers. For strategy, most are born from management consulting, like Porter’s Five Forces or the GE-McKinsey Nine-Box Matrix.

Helping reduce cognitive load

The mind is a wonderful processor, but the amount of information needed to predict the future and make decisions is overwhelming for even the brightest, i.e., the failed Long-Term Capital Management hedge fund.

Frameworks provide the structure and methodology for systematically categorizing data and modeling it so that it makes sense. They work because they are essentially organizational heuristics — techniques for problem-solving that use mental shortcuts to reduce cognitive load.

Business frameworks tend to be fast and thrifty, leading to solutions that are effective but not necessarily optimized.

Choosing the best framework

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to attribute the effectiveness of a business solely to the application of a particular framework.

In psychotherapy, there is extensive research behind which of the myriad forms of therapy, from cognitive behavioral to narrative therapy, is the most effective. The results of meta-analyses of these frameworks yield a surprising result: Not one approach works consistently better than others.

While psychotherapy as a whole is unquestionably effective, the specifics of the schools of thought are not important. The takeaway is that using a framework is much better than not using one.

Some flexible considerations for frameworks:

  • Any framework approach is better than none. A framework should be consistent with your intuition and past experience.

  • Favor simplicity over complexity. The mind has a love affair with complicated ideas but complex does not equal better.

  • A framework requiring a process implementation that creates more overhead than any potential gain is doomed.

  • You don’t need to know why a framework is effective, but be aware of the basic underlying assumptions. If those basic assumptions are no longer valid due to market conditions or a changing environment, it’s time for a change.

  • Try to avoid jumping into the next cool framework, unless the bell of intuition rings. But conversely, don’t be a zealot for any particular approach.

Framework thinking is designed to allow strategic decisions to be made using a simplified model of the business’s ecosystem by avoiding two sins of the CEO — paralysis by analysis or jumping to conclusions with no supporting data.

Todd Whittington is the executive director of 10xelerator, a technology startup accelerator in Central Ohio. Todd has had a winding career path focusing around innovation processes, user acquisition marketing and operations improvement with a strong bent towards measurement and analytics.

How to reach:

Learn more about 10xelerator at:

Twitter: @10xelerator

If being online is a part of your business strategy, you need more than a quality, user-friendly website. You need smart SEO.

When a person conducts an online search using words related to your business, SEO increases the likelihood that your website is listed at the top of the results. It allows you to reach a greater audience online — but only if it’s done correctly. Start by understanding some key strategies insiders use to ensure both humans and search engines like your website.

Use strategic website organization

Create a list of relevant keywords and use them strategically throughout the website. This is a good strategy, as long as you play by the rules.

Search engines seek to match the most useful and relevant information. To maintain integrity, search engines change algorithms frequently to outsmart “schemers” who find loopholes.

When changes occur, websites can be penalized with lower result rankings.

Incorporate relevant keywords in page titles, body copy and metadata. Titles and meta descriptions typically appear in the search results. When searches include keywords that match your page title and description, those words appear in bold, helping your page stand out.

Dedicate each Web page to one topic, product type or service. This ensures when a keyword is searched the most relevant Web page within your site pops up. It increases the likelihood users will click the link and find what they need.

It also helps decrease bounces — when a visitor immediately leaves a Web page — which search engines use to consider how long visitors stay engaged on your website.

Label images

Images should include relevant keywords in image titles, descriptions and alternative text. Proper alternate text helps with SEO and even provides sight-impaired Internet users an understanding of images, enabling them to more easily navigate your website.

Start a company blog

A company blog provides a platform to consistently post high-interest, industry-related content. This attracts audiences who search on a topic that may not otherwise be represented. It is a good practice to focus on one topic for a single post and include relevant keywords within the title, body copy and meta description.

Link your website to other sites

A well linked website shows search engines that a site is trustworthy. Claim your listings in reputable online directories, referral sites, review sites (Yelp, Google+), and reputable trade and news organizations and associations. Add a website link in company social media profiles, and include keywords in profile copy and content.

Invest in search engine marketing

If your website is new or you want to add to your SEO, consider advertising on search engines. Search engine marketing helps your website appear above or on the side of search results as an advertisement, so your company has exposure, even if your website isn’t in the organic search results.

SEM has a unique set of best practices, so use a certified associate or agency to handle an online advertising campaign.

These steps will increase relevant website traffic. Being diligent in reviewing website analytics and maintaining optimization best practices assures your website is being found.

Kelly Borth is the CEO and chief strategy officer at GREENCREST, a 23-year-old brand development, strategic and interactive marketing and public relations firm that turns market players into market leaders. Kelly has received numerous honors for her business and community leadership. She serves on several local advisory boards and is one of 30 certified brand strategists in the U.S.

How to reach: (614) 885-7921, or

Learn more about GREENCREST at:

Twitter: @GreenCrest

Companies use customer service metrics to gauge how customers view them. But that’s not enough — not if you really want to delight customers.

Successful companies listen to what customers are saying and use it to drive operational change. Feedback isn’t just analyzed at the corporate level, but throughout the entire organization.

When we rolled out an updated customer service survey, we implemented three key things to ensure each person understood its importance and their role in it.

Make it more than a score

In the past, we used the Customer Service Index as a measure. We had great scores, but that’s all they were — numbers. They didn’t give us a way to understand the customer experience, so we introduced the Net Promoter System.

Based on the fundamental perspective that every customer can be divided into three categories — promoters, passives and detractors — it asks one question, “How likely is it that you would recommend Safelite to a friend or colleague?”

Customers respond on a 10-point scale and are categorized as follows:

  • Promoters (score 9-10), loyal enthusiasts who keep buying and refer others, fueling growth.

  • Passives (score 7-8), satisfied but unenthusiastic customers who are vulnerable to competitive offerings.

  • Detractors (score 0-6), unhappy customers who can damage your brand and impede growth through negative word-of-mouth.

To calculate your NPS, take the percentage of customers who are promoters and subtract the percentage who are detractors.

This allowed us to change our vocabulary and actions. Satisfaction was no longer good enough. We needed to delight customers to earn a promoter. We can dig into the data to show what experiences create a promoter or detractor. This metric has become a part of our daily conversations.

Share scores directly and in real-time

In a service organization, such as Safelite AutoGlass, there is typically one person the customer interacts with — the technician. As the faces of our company, it’s essential that technicians embrace customer service views.

Technicians set goals for their scores, and each week, store managers provide them with the customer service survey results. They review negative comments together and discuss ways to improve.

This real-time information is key because technicians remember the specific customer and situation that led to a low score, allowing better understanding of what might be done differently.

Align scores to rewards

To stress the importance of customer service performance goals, they are tied to rewards for everyone throughout the organization. For example, a field staff member who gets a written customer compliment receives an Excellence in Service Award. Those with a high number of Excellence in Service Awards are recognized in the lobby or our headquarters with a framed photo and call-out.

Celebrating together encourages a continued goal of customer delight.

While there is much more to creating a customer-centric culture, finding the right tool to listen is key. You may have to try several metrics to find one that works best for your organization. Ultimately, what you do with the feedback is more important than how you collect it.


Tom Feeney is the President & CEO of Safelite AutoGlass®. In his 25 years with Safelite Group Inc., Tom has been instrumental in establishing Safelite AutoGlass® as a national company and a well-known brand.

Since 2008, he has set the course for growing Safelite’s profits by 200 percent through two core principles: People Powered and Customer Driven. Tom is the recipient of the 2011 International Service Excellence CEO of the Year Award, the 2011 1-to-1 Media Customer Service Champion, the 2013 Columbus CEO Customer Service Award and many more. For more information, visit

Learn more about Safelite AutoGlass at:

Twitter: @safelite

At the end of January, I received an email that Gwynnie Bee, an e-commerce retailer, was opening a flagship fulfillment center in the Columbus region, creating 400 jobs — and so began my research into Columbus as a distribution hub for this month’s feature story.

I’d always heard that Columbus is located in the perfect spot, accessible to most of the U.S. population within a day’s drive.

I knew it was basically the mini-New York with many fashion retailers headquartered in the area.

What I didn’t know was the deliberate effort on behalf of business and government leaders to turn a core competency into something stronger.

An intentional effort paying off

Within the past decade, Columbus has put together an intentional economic development effort on behalf of the region and community for distribution and logistics.

Kenny McDonald, CEO of Columbus 2020, told me that 50 percent of the industry’s growth has come from that effort.

He says they treat businesses that expand or relocate distribution centers to Columbus like customer accounts, periodically checking in with them.

Jeff Zimmerman, director of the Columbus Region Logistics Council, reports that there is a clustering effect in the city because people want access to intermodal terminals, air cargo freight, efficient roadways and transportation routes, and an educated workforce.

He called it somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy, where the council creates a visibility for the region’s capabilities, so people become more attracted to it, adding to the capabilities.

Katy Keane, an adjunct logistics professor at The Ohio State University, says that with transportation costs continuing to go up, Columbus’ proximity becomes even more important, but the outlook for logistics in Columbus is rosier than in many other cities because there’s such a great support system.

“All the plans that many people have worked on for years are coming to fruition,” she says.

Columbus has done a good job of building up its infrastructure — where Rickenbacker Inland Port is ground zero — “with the idea that if you build it, they will come,” Keane says. “And they are coming.”

Consciously, with purpose

This approach reminds us that there’s always room for improvement — a way to make something stronger. Successful businesses take what they do well and turn it into something great, and then strive for exceptional.

You need to find your strengths, and then create long-term plans to nurture, grow and cultivate those strengths into something more.

As a fan of Malcolm Gladwell, I like to think about the 10,000-hour-rule, where he says it takes roughly 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. Have you and your employees spent 10,000 hours on your core competencies?

And just like the city of Columbus and its fortuitous location, you can’t rest on your current success because then you’re in danger of being left behind.

For example, every person I talked to about Columbus’ logistics industry kept reminding me that it’s an ongoing effort. They aren’t done. In fact, they’re just getting started.

Jayne Gest is an associate editor at Smart Business Columbus. Jayne is interested in the people and businesses making a difference in Columbus.

How to reach:, (800) 988-4726 ext. 281 or

Have an idea to share? Engage with us on Twitter @SmartBiz_COL

There’s no question that a fair amount of confusion exists about the Affordable Care Act — including the lack of clarity about the differences between private insurance exchanges and public exchanges.

Beginning now, individuals are, as a result of the ACA, required to either obtain health insurance or face penalties. Most people are covered by employer-sponsored medical plans, but many are not covered and have even previously been deemed uninsurable. Not any more.

Examining the public exchanges

The ACA’s public exchanges were intended to help make insurance more affordable and enable the uninsured to be covered regardless of existing health conditions.

The health plans offered on these public exchanges are labeled platinum, gold, silver and bronze, reflecting the levels of coverage and the cost to consumers. All these plans offer the same core benefits, or minimum benefit sets, and are offered by insurance companies through the public exchange mechanism.

The public exchanges offer only major medical coverage to participants and as a result, voluntary benefits such as vision or dental must be sought elsewhere. Fourteen states have set up their own, state-run public exchanges, and 36 states have chosen to rely on the exchange established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Thus far, consumers have had varying experiences in the public exchange marketplaces, state or federal, including reporting delays and glitches on a widespread basis.

Understanding private marketplaces

Private exchanges or marketplaces are different. They are open to consumers, whether individuals, employers or groups of affiliates. Private marketplaces make it possible to get information, examine alternatives, decide which plans are best and manage the process directly without any delays or bureaucratic interference.

Private marketplaces have particular appeal to employers who are striving to manage the costs of offering health benefits, while providing an exceptional experience to employees.

Employers can give employees a set amount of money, directing them to a private exchange, or they can utilize the more traditional defined benefit plan.

Enrollees also will be eligible for an array of voluntary benefits such as dental, life and various forms of gap coverage to bridge the difference between the deductible amount and out-of-pocket expenses.

Private insurance exchanges make it easier for the participant to take charge of health and benefit programs.

Consider the Ohio Benefits Marketplace

With this in mind, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with CieloStar, has established a private health care marketplace available to Ohio employers called the Ohio Chamber Benefits Marketplace,

This marketplace website provides an easy and cost-effective way to shop for health care benefits. Whether you are a company of one or 1,000, the marketplace has various benefit options that can be tailored to the needs of your employees.

In addition to major medical plans, the Ohio Chamber Member Benefits Marketplace also provides a comprehensive suite of ancillary health benefits such as dental, vision, life and other insurance options. Through the website, employees can craft a package of health care benefits that fits their needs, not someone else’s.

And most importantly, shopping for health care benefits on the website is easy. In just five steps, companies can be on their way to offering competitive employee benefits at an affordable price.

Beau Euton is vice president of membership at the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. To contact the Ohio Chamber, call (614) 228-4201 or visit

William Mehus is the executive chairman of CieloStar. CieloStar and CieloChoice are trademarks of OutsourceOne Inc., a Minnesota-based corporation. For more information, visit

Learn more about the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, at:

Twitter: @OhioChamber

Although social media has become mainstream practice for businesses, many executives are still uncertain how to put their best foot forward with social media strategy.

If done right, social media is the perfect platform to give your brand a personality, and build brand affinity and awareness. It requires clear objectives and a smart strategy in order to engage the right audience with the right messages.

As a marketing professional, I’ve witnessed the success in building online relationships, increasing social media website referrals, receiving valuable feedback from customers and generating leads. By instilling social media best practices, you, too, can reap the benefits — no matter your industry.

Create a social media-marketing plan

To begin, perform an audit and run a competitive analysis of your social media profiles and activity.

Next, develop a plan. Having a strategic social media-marketing plan is what sets great social media campaigns apart from campaigns that waste time and dollars.

Know your audience so you can post content they will find interesting, helpful or entertaining. What are your social media goals and objectives? Are you looking to increase your brand awareness or website traffic? Do you want to increase social media conversions and sales leads?

Brand your profiles

It’s important that you stay professional and on-brand — even on social media.

Take advantage of all the opportunities each platform offers businesses to brand themselves. Design an attractive and professional Facebook cover photo, Twitter background or LinkedIn banner consistent with your website and off-line marketing materials.

Develop content

When it’s time to develop content, there are a few social media best practices to remember:

1. Create a content schedule. When you create a schedule that designates when to post different types of content, you can develop content more quickly. Your audience will begin to expect certain posts on specific days. So, you might post a special offer on Mondays, a helpful tip on Tuesdays and behind-the-scenes pictures on Fridays.

2. Post daily. Many companies believe that posting once or twice a week is sufficient, but it dramatically reduces the people you’re reaching. Not everyone is online at the same time or when your post is made — a typical post has a lifespan of 30 minutes.

Some B2B businesses can get away with posting once per day, but most should post three to five times per day. Also know which hours your audience is online. Generally, business professionals are on social media before the workday, during lunchtime and after the workday.

However, LinkedIn may garner some relevant traffic during the workday, and Pinterest usually sees the best engagement late morning and mid-afternoon.

3. Don’t oversell or undersell. Apply the 80/20 rule when posting content and sales messages. Make sure 80 percent of posts focus on engaging your audience, such as asking questions and including a call-to-action. Your sales and promotional messages should make up about 20 percent of content.

4. Make it fun. After all, you’re on a “social” network. People are looking for content that is entertaining, informative or interesting. And most importantly, they’re looking for content that’s relevant to your business!

Adhering to these best practices will lay a good foundation for your social networking and engagement efforts — and lead to the results you want.

Kelly Borth is CEO and chief strategy officer for GREENCREST, a 23-year-old brand development, strategic and interactive marketing and public relations firm that turns market players into market leaders. Borth has received numerous honors for her business and community leadership. She serves on several local advisory boards and is one of 30 certified brand strategists in the U.S. Reach her at (614) 885-7921, or on Twitter @brandpro. For more information, visit


Learn more about GREENCREST at:

Twitter: @GreenCrest

If you ask anyone what makes Flying Horse Farms so special, unquestionably the answer will be “the people.” As CEO of this life-changing organization, I am proud of the culture we have built and believe our culture has everything to do with our success.

As a young organization, we were fortunate to build our culture together — from the ground up, as a team. Together, we established a vision of how we want to be known throughout the state of Ohio, the country and beyond.

We created our 10 core values and didn’t stop editing them until they were perfect. We use our core values as the foundation of every decision we make — from hiring new employees to partnering with corporations and implementing new programs.

If the person, company or idea aligns with our values — we embrace it. When people, corporate philosophies or ideas don’t align with our core values, we gracefully decline the opportunity.

Here is a glimpse into a few of our core values:

Campers first

Creating transformative camp experiences for children with serious illnesses is serious business. It’s also serious fun.

Every decision we make has our campers’ best interest at heart. It’s that simple.

All crew, no passengers

When you visit our office inside the Big Red Barn (and I hope that you will), you will notice a team of authentic people working tirelessly to raise our operating budget, plan our camp programs, maintain our facilities and establish safety protocols to care for our medically fragile campers.

Something else you will likely notice is the collaboration in which we solve our toughest problems. It has been said that the strongest predictor of effectiveness in any organization is the amount of help and collaboration employees are willing to provide and engage in with their colleagues.

At Flying Horse Farms, we have an internal punch line, “other duties as unassigned,” which simply means if the kitchen crew is lean on volunteers, offer to serve a meal and wash the dishes.

We feel a sense of ownership and responsibility to the camp and each other. Working beyond our job description is part of our fabric — we do what needs to be done to make the experience the best possible for our campers.

Fearless is free

We believe the only way to spread our wings and fly is to take risks — boldly.

For our campers, being fearless ranges from spending the night away from home for the first time, to performing on stage, to mastering the skills of archery or soaring amongst the treetops on the high ropes course.

Our campers show us how being fearless brings freedom, joy and confidence.

As the leader of Flying Horse Farms, I encourage all employees to approach our work with the same fearless attitude. Greatness is achieved by taking risks, being bold and believing in the unbelievable. I have seen unbelievable things happen here, so I know the philosophy works.

My advice to CEOs would be to dust off your existing core values or get busy creating them. Be unapologetically committed to running your organization by its set of values. The result of this focused leadership will be nothing short of spectacular.

Mimi Dane
is the CEO of Flying Horse Farms, a camp for children with serious illnesses. Located in Mt. Gilead, the camp serves hundreds of children each year — free of charge. The camp is a member of the SeriousFun Children’s Network, the world’s largest family of camps for children with serious illnesses, which was founded in 1998 by Ohio native, Paul Newman. For more information, visit

Learn more about Flying Horse Farms at:

Twitter: @flyinghorsefarm

As anyone in business or sales will tell you, first impressions are everything. Initial judgments are made within four seconds, and finalized within 30.

As business owners, we’re concerned with the image we’re sending our target markets, how employees represent our companies and how potential customers perceive our offices or stores. Studies have shown that first impressions are hard to shake — even if a person’s later experiences with a company contradict it.

Have you thought of your website as a first impression of your business? It’s increasingly becoming the first interaction potential customers have with your business. In fact, 75 percent of Web users admit to making judgments about a company’s credibility based on website design alone.

There are many ways to improve your company’s website and deliver a credible first impression online:

Create visually appealing design

Design matters. The visual appeal of a website has a major influence on a company’s credibility and a person’s first impression. Ensure that the design is consistent with off-line branded materials. Use your brand’s color pallet and typography.

Be sure that the font is appealing and easy to read, and support your message with photos and images. Your website should have a recognizable, organized layout that remains consistent.

Utilize user-friendly navigation

A user needs to be able to easily understand where to find the specific information he or she is looking for. Your website’s navigation should be clear, visible and consistent throughout. You also should incorporate a visual cue that tells users what page they are on.

But, don’t offer too many choices in the navigation bar — this overwhelms users, who will quickly leave. Try to keep it under 10 choices.

Develop quality content

The information on your website should make both search engines and your target audience happy. You have about 20 to 30 seconds to capture users’ attention before they leave the page. Your content should be thorough, concise, current and organized efficiently. It also should be grammatically correct.

To drive more traffic through search engines, use your company’s keywords when they make sense and properly label all images. Remember that search engines typically can’t read text in images or dynamic programming like JavaScript, so avoid placing critical information in those items.

Improve design functionality

About 40 percent of people will abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load. A slow loading time is often because of oversized images. Reducing the file size and compressing the images can fix this.

You also should ensure the website experience is virtually the same on any browser. Today, it’s necessary to have a mobile website compatible on phones and tablets. Mobile searches increased 400 percent over last year, and mobile Web usage is expected to exceed desktop by the end of this year.

Responsive design will arrange your content so it displays nicely — no matter the size of the screen.

Your website establishes a strong and lasting first impression on potential customers. When you incorporate appealing aesthetics, user-friendly navigation, quality content and design functionality, you create a better first impression.

Having a well-designed and well-built website can grow your business. So, make a great first impression and enjoy increased traffic and potential customer leads.


Kelly Borth is CEO and chief strategy officer for GREENCREST, a 23-year-old brand development, strategic and interactive marketing and public relations firm that turns market players into market leaders. Borth has received numerous honors for her business and community leadership. She serves on several local advisory boards and is one of 30 certified brand strategists in the U.S. Reach her at (614) 885-7921, or on Twitter @brandpro. For more information, visit

Twitter (company): @GreenCrest
LinkedIn (company):

I am fortunate to serve as the president and CEO of one of the nation’s largest United Way organizations, and I spend a lot of time working to inspire and motivate my team.

But I have a much larger role: To help educate the Central Ohio community about huge issues that keep people from thriving, and mobilize everyone to help solve them.

In that role, I engage with a diverse group of leaders from the corporate, education, government and nonprofit worlds to learn from their input and forge working relationships.

Together, we have come to understand that no one organization can provide the improvements we need to create the opportunities that build a prosperous community. We realized that we must take a new approach where all organizations play important roles in advancing the common good. We need to create collective impact.

A shared goal

You may not have heard of collective impact, but it is a concept that more and more people are paying attention to.
At its simplest level, collective impact happens when a core group of people or organizations come together around a shared goal with a common set of strategies and methods — everyone bringing their strengths to the table to solve an issue that cannot be solved alone.

Collective impact moves beyond collaboration. It requires a higher level of commitment — each partner must fulfill the role that best moves the collective work forward. United Way is embracing this new model and is willing to be a convener, catalyst, advocate or leader.

Lessons learned

We are at the beginning of our journey toward achieving collective impact, but some of the guidelines we have learned from our years of effective collaboration are already clear:

  • Trust each other. Every partner that comes to the table has to know that there is a mutual level of trust. We achieve this by being open and transparent, and we expect the same from our partners. To create transformational change will take all of our energy.
  • Get the facts. Like any good business, we collect pertinent data and analyze it to determine the most effective ways to invest our donors’ gifts. In a collective impact model, each partner organization will bring its data and analysis to the table. Together, we can work to determine the root causes of the issues we need to solve.
  • Prioritize the goals of the community-wide effort over those of each partner organization. This may be the most difficult guideline because while every partner is working to strengthen our community, we all accomplish that by focusing primarily on the work of our individual organizations.
  • Maintain a long-term perspective. Creating transformational change takes a long time, and there will be many triumphs and setbacks along the way. Once we have an effective plan in place we have to persevere and support each other.

Uniting a diverse group of leaders to create greater positive impact than anyone could achieve on their own is an ambitious undertaking, but I believe that we can and must do it.


Janet E. Jackson is the president and CEO of United Way of Central Ohio, one of the largest United Way organizations in the world. Under her leadership, United Way is working to build a community where everyone has the aspirations, resources and opportunities to reach their potential. Reach her at (614) 227-2746 or For more information, visit

Facebook (company):
Twitter (company): @UWCO

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