October 29, 2018
For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Nancy Sasaki and I am the CEO of United Way San Diego County.
I may be new to UWSD, but I’m not new to this region’s work dedicated to helping others. For nearly 30 years I’ve been involved in this community. I’ve worked with a lot of people and a lot of organizations— from leading direct service organizations to running grant making foundations.
Now, I’m privileged to have been selected to lead United Way of San Diego County, dedicating my efforts to our work in education and family stability. I look forward to collaborating with the staff, board, and community to create the legacy that United Way will become in the future.
While preparing for my interview with United Way for the CEO position, one of the first things I noticed was the confusion over who we are and what we do.
Casually polling colleagues and friends — “What do you think about United Way? What do you know?”—I heard the same confusion: I know the name, but I haven’t heard anything from them for a while… I know what they used to do, but I’m not sure now.
The people we serve are many, and they’re located all across the county. So, how could we possibly include everyone in these conversations that are so important in learning what we need to know?
That’s why we turned to Design Thinking, or human-centered design, a proven process for generating new ideas and solving problems. People are at the center of our primary problem, so using a process that helps us better understand all of the people involved makes sense.
We know we need everyone represented, so we’ll start with outreach efforts that help build Empathy. A Community Listening Survey, a series of online focus groups, and interviews with thought leaders and key influencers will help us to build an emotional understanding of everyone involved.
Learning from what we hear, we’ll make sure our problem is well defined. Once we’re certain that we’re working on the right problem, we can confidently move into Ideation—generating new ideas for feedback. Our best ideas will be represented as prototypes and shared with our community to test what we all have come up with. Once completed, we'll share the ideas that will shape how we communicate to each of you moving forward about our role in the community.
Our goal is to understand the community’s perspective on United Way, and that begins with listening. Listening to you. Listening to our donors, our community partners, our long-time supporters. Listening to those who applaud us, those who doubt us, and those who need us most and have turned to United Way for support during tough times.
Your thoughts, feelings, and views will be used to move United Way forward. We will start by putting all of your ideas together to formulate how we can better communicate, inform, and receive feedback about the role we play in the community— strengthening our children, our families, and the region.
We invite you to be part of the process. We will need your input and your help in testing which ideas work and then refine them until we have the best possible version of a strategy that clarifies United Way’s role and purpose. But first, it starts with a conversation.
Please take the time to complete our survey and tell us what you think. (Our survey is now closed)
The survey takes between 9-16 minutes, depending on how involved you are with charitable organizations. Please invest this time to provide the much needed insight into important areas of our work.
Or join a webinar (the webinars are now completed) and share your thoughts in real time with other people from our community. Answer questions, provide your insights, and help us understand how to better communicate with you and the people you represent in our community.
Just promise me that you’ll talk to us, and I promise you: we’ll be listening.
Nancy L. Sasaki
President & CEO
United Way of San Diego County