Nonprofit Performance 360 Issue 12

that interest go.There is room for all of us. At some point, organizations may need to consolidate and think about shared purposes. We’re trying to be a catalyst for people to think differently through facilitating conversations like that, and helping them see that we are doing this, too. We are not some expert coming in and saying that we want you to do this and it will be hard on you and easy for us. We are holding ourselves to that same standard. We can share our experience with you, to show you that there is a different way to think about things that might be more advantageous for the community. Collaborations without Partnerships We interface with arts and church communities in the city. In some cases, we are taking a sit back and wait posture, but in many cases, we are directly at the table.We are in one group with Centra Foundation and Greater Lynchburg Community Foundation. There’s another group that is us, Salvation Army, Goodwill, Interfaith Outreach, and a couple of others.We are in those very early stages of just talking.

Poverty to Progress has combined its efforts with Bridges Out of Poverty. We are in some of the sub-committees there. We probably need to spend some time with the leaders in that effort to understand a place for us to be more effective. Our focus is on health, education, income, and basic human needs, so poverty is one of the biggest issues that we could be addressing. We’re building lines of communication in things that are not yet looped into the Poverty to Progress initiative. These things are broken down into eight or nine groups now. We need to figure out how to turn these lofty conversations into actionable plans. Experiences from my past made this role very compelling to me, and put me in a position to help people. Nobody gets into nonprofit work because of the glory, fame, and riches; you get into it because you care about it. That makes this an incredibly exciting sector to work in. The people that you work with are invigorated because they

genuinely care. When you get caught up in operating an organization, you can turn down the light on that part of your brain and your heart, and get obsessed with what you’re doing today. When you go into a collaborative effort, remember that you wanted to help people, not build an organization. If you can keep the light shining on that, the collaboration falls naturally behind. You have to be willing to let some personal interest go so that the benefit accrues to the community, not necessarily to you or your organization. Bill Varner, President and CEO, came to United Way of Central Virginia with a strong background in organizational strategic planning, consumer research, branding, marketing, public relations, and communication. He has served on the boards of several organizations in Central Virginia including James River Day School, the Lynchburg Regional Chamber of Commerce, Amazement Square, Piedmont Community Health Plan, and, of course, United Way of Central Virginia.

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