United Way’s New Strategic Plan Builds on a Legacy of Support

United Way Legacy of support

United Way’s New Strategic Plan Builds on a Legacy of Support


Barrie King’s involvement started years ago with a single donation.

A manufacturing exec at the time, Barrie knew United Way was a trusted charity, but he didn’t know much else about it. Curious about how United Way was using his money, Barrie started asking questions. He found out all United Ways across Canada are fully independent and 100% local. He also discovered hundreds of volunteers are trained and deployed to maximize the impact of each donation.

Pleased with the answers, he began volunteering with his workplace United Way campaign. He also shared his growing knowledge with his colleagues and encouraged them to join in.

“My wife and I have donated to United Way for more than 20 years,” he recalls proudly. “First through my workplace and payroll deduction, and then directly once I retired.”


After retirement, in addition to his continuing financial contribution, Barrie spent five years as a senior volunteer at United Way Simcoe Muskoka (UWSM). During that time, he chaired fundraising committees on the Campaign Cabinet and as a member of the Board of Directors. Now on the inside, he had more opportunities to see UWSM’s community-building operation close up.

He visited funded programs to learn more about how UWSM grants help local agencies better serve their clients. He spoke to those whose lives had improved because of the work he was involved in, and he was motivated to do more.

“The good this local organization does in our community to protect our vulnerable neighbours is worthy of our respect and our ongoing support,” Barrie says.

During his tenure with the cabinet, UWSM fundraising results increased 13.5% year over year and Barrie was recognized for his exceptional hard work and dedication. In 2015 (the year his term on the Board of Directors came to an end), more than 27,000 people across Simcoe Muskoka accessed life-changing programs close to home, benefiting themselves, their families and their communities.

United way strategic plan

See our current Annual Report here.


Barrie King is a shining example of how our local communities benefit from highly committed UWSM donors, says CEO Dale Biddell, who just launched her organization’s new five-year strategic plan. Such donor engagement has emerged as a priority in the coming years.

“My primary goal is for us to achieve more personal relationships with our donors – and through that, to work together in addressing social issues,” she explains. “We’re in a unique position to define the key social issues impacting our area and to promote a broad understanding of how those issues touch down for residents in local communities.

“If we meet current and new donors where they are, and understand what matters most to them, I believe we can offer a more personalized opportunity to work with us in the service of our community.”

Adapting to a changing environment

On the eve of its 60th anniversary, UWSM is wrapping up a comprehensive internal examination to ensure an organizational structure built to meet today’s social challenges head-on. Employing updated business systems, this 2018-2023 Strategic Plan sets out a roadmap for a sustainable future.

“Sustainability for us means our communities can depend on us to engage with them to address the issues that keep residents from living full, productive lives,” adds Dale, who envisions UWSM as a growing contributor to the region’s social infrastructure. “We want to build upon the legacy of support from decades of donor engagement in area workplaces. Such resources can be leveraged in new ways to bring private, public and non-profit sectors together to co-create innovative and long-term solutions.”


Chief Executive Officer Dale Biddell reflects on the multi-faceted approach required to achieve UWSM’s aspirations – as outlined in the new strategic plan:

  1. Champion Stewardship & Investments
    “Our donors fuel the social change our communities rely on. We want to get to know them better – and keep earning their respect and support.”
  2. Communicate to Grow Engagement
    “We’re ramping up our digital channels to complement our more traditional communications so we can meet and engage our donors where they are.”
  3. Cultivate and Create Partnerships
    “We operate in a culture of collaboration. We join teams, start teams and ensure our independent work always supports collective goals.”
  4. Diversify & Increase Revenue
    “We recognize that one engagement model doesn’t fit all donors, so we’re continuing to build new programs – like Women’s Leadership Council – that align with the preferences of our donors to provide what matters most to them.”
  5. Continue to Engage in Social Enterprise
    “We’ve been successful to date in developing a robust social enterprise, which has resulted in a new community granting program called the Collaboration Fund. In the coming years, we will continue to grow our other streams of revenue that pursue a social purpose to bolster our donor-driven community investments.”
  6. Maximize Community Impact
    “We are implementing more efficient and effective data systems to demonstrate the results of our investments on behalf of our donors. We fund local programs to address high priority community needs, as confirmed by our research. This step will close the loop and determine our collective impact on a given social challenge.”
  7. Be a High-performing Organization
    “This is the over-arching goal of this strategic plan and the bottom line for us to become the sustainable community support we need to be. We’re instituting strategies and systems to intentionally, diligently and transparently become the charity of choice to address our communities’ broad social issues.”

Dale invites community members to contact her directly by email or phone (705-726-2301, x2033) to discuss the new strategic plan or the many ways to get involved.


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