United Way of Greater Milwaukee and United Way in Waukesha County are merging to form the United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County, the organizations announced on Thursday.
The nonprofits will officially become one on Feb. 1, 2015, but their integration is beginning today and will be an “ongoing process over the next several months,” said Lori Holly, director of marketing and communications at United Way of Greater Milwaukee.
United Way of Greater Milwaukee and United Way in Waukesha County belong to United Way Worldwide, which aims to strengthen communities through the work of about 1,800 organizations in 41 countries and territories. United Way is largely focused on improving education, promoting financial stability, and supporting healthy living.
The merger of operations in Milwaukee and Waukesha, which has been in discussion for more than a year according to the organizations, is answering the request of many corporate donors and partners.
“The new United Way in Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County offers a richer donor experience for all of our corporate partners, especially those with campuses in both counties,” United Way of Greater Milwaukee president and CEO Mary Lou Young said in a press release. “Previously, partners such as Aurora Healthcare, Froedtert Health, GE Healthcare, Husco International, UPS and Wells Fargo Bank interacted separately with both United Ways. By becoming one, we now offer a seamless experience for those donors.”
Young has been appointed president and CEO of the merged operation. Her counterpart in Waukesha County, Jayne Thoma, who has been executive director since 1996, will serve as vice president of the Center for Community Collaboration.
That center will function as the organization’s volunteer center and will build on the volunteer center that United Way in Waukesha County has already had in place.
“We will be expanding that and bringing it to scale for the larger organization and for both communities,” Holly said.
Thoma will also represent the new organization on the Thriving Waukesha County Initiative.
Under the merger, which has been endorsed by United Way Worldwide, the larger organization will maintain a presence in both Milwaukee and Waukesha by retaining the nonprofits’ current offices in each county.
United Way of Greater Milwaukee is housed at 225 W. Vine St. in Milwaukee, and United Way in Waukesha County operates at 1717 Paramount Drive in Waukesha.
In addition to serving Milwaukee and Waukesha counties, the organization will also have a footprint in Washington and Ozaukee counties, where United Way of Greater Milwaukee has historically had a presence.
According to Holly, who will remain director of marketing and communications, the merger will not impact employees at either location.
The organizations’ boards of directors, which are staffed voluntarily, will be restructured so that one board presides over the larger organization. The new board members will be announced at the organization’s annual meeting in February. As part of the restructuring plans, five business leaders of Waukesha County will be added to the board, according to Holly.
While United Way of Greater Milwaukee and United Way in Waukesha County will complete their current community campaigns separately, as well as allocate their dollars separately, the 2015 campaign initiative will be consolidated into one, Holly said.
During last year’s campaign, United Way in Waukesha County failed to reach its fundraising goal of $4.75 million. That financial struggle, however, did not factor into the decision to merge the two nonprofits, according to Holly.
“This was completely driven by…our corporate partners that just really have been asking for a number of years really for us to take a look at consolidating operations,” she said.
Holly also noted that all agency partners who benefit from United Way dollars will remain partners.
“We really see a great benefit in that this allows us to maximize operational efficiencies for our organizations that we fund – the programs that we fund – and our program partners,” she said. “So ultimately the hope is that this will result in additional dollars available for programs that improve lives across the four-county footprint.”