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Q&A: United Way National Capital Area President Rosie Allen-Herring


Most nonprofits raise over 50% of their annual budget during the end-of-year holiday season. On the eve of #GivingTuesday, we pulled United Way of the National Capital Area president/CEO Rosie Allen-Herring away from the planning to give us a sense of her organization’s focus and strategy.

What will United Way NCA do differently this year on #GivingTuesday? 

This is a time of year to say thank you so we’re doing an all-hands-on-deck Thank You-thon. We’ll be calling this year’s donors as well as longtime donors to give them a personal thank you. It’s something that every member of United Way NCA is doing, starting with me. 

Is United Way trying any new strategies for raising money?

We’ve evolved our business model of workforce giving to also include a community investment model. We’re looking at the region’s toughest challenges and serving as a convener, collaborator and catalyst. We’re getting many of our donors to look at us as an impact organization


What are the biggest challenges facing the region?

Education is No. 1. Most solutions are focused on high school graduation rates or early childhood education. We decided to focus on middle school. The region has over 12,000 middle school students in communities with high numbers of free and reduced lunches. We’ve provided in-classroom and after-school support at Kelly Miller Middle School in Ward 7 and we’ve expanded to Francis Hammond Middle School in Alexandria. 

A close second is affordable housing. We’re tackling that issue by focusing on financial empowerment. We opened the first financial empowerment center in Largo, where families can get assistance with workforce needs, taxes and banking services.

Our third focus is healthcare and increasing access. In October, we did Project Homeless Connect for the first time. It was a one-day event where over 300 homeless people were paired with a volunteer who helped them get a myriad of basic need services in one day. We saved two people’s lives that day. They had no idea their health was in such jeopardy and in need of emergency healthcare.

How are you engaging with Millennials?

We have our Emerging Leaders Society, where we look at philanthropy through the lens of Millennials. We found that time and talent is not only important to them, but they also want to connect. We’re offering opportunities for volunteerism and trying to reach them about the issues they care about. We’re also using more technology to make it easier to give.