United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Cole Society is the umbrella covering three different affinity groups: African-American Partnership, Young Professional Leaders and Cole Women United.
Cole Society has around 8,000 members who have invested millions of dollars into Greater Atlanta. To qualify for Cole Society, you must give an annual gift of $1,000 up to $9,999.
“Your contribution to the Cole Society enables you to participate in those three groups,” Eve Powell, a strategic leader who assists in an administrative capacity with Cole Society, said. “We don’t have a committee. We have a panel that we call our ‘advisory panel,’ and we have a dozen members who meet quarterly.
“We don’t have a focus area, specifically. Our focus is just child well-being.”
Improving the well-being of children in Greater Atlanta’s 13 counties has been the primary agenda for United Way since its last strategic planning meeting. Born out of this meeting was the Child Well-Being Index. United Way found certain zip codes where people were born created a barrier that prevented children to reach their life’s full potential.
A data committee looked at how we measure potential for a child. Fourteen measures in determining child well-being were selected. Compiled data showed half a million children in Greater Atlanta grow up without the resources, opportunities or social supports to reach their full potential. The index gave United Way a tool to measure this. The data was daunting, but the data created a common goal for the organization to work toward correcting.
There is now this organization-wide shared agenda, and all roads to giving point toward reversing the implications of the Child Well-Being Index. Affinity groups allow members to meet with other like-minded people who understand the importance of giving back to their communities.
“We don’t have any events that are just Cole Society,” Powell said. “We want people to get into an affinity group and be participatory in all that we do. You would give at the Cole level and you can be a member of the other three.”
Cole donors are a diverse group who unite around this common goal of helping others.
Powell doesn’t directly recruit new members for Cole Society, but she works in a planning and leadership role with United Way of Greater Atlanta’s development officers. These development officers work with corporate partners to recruit members for leadership giving, which opens them up to affinity groups.
Cole Society is named for Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole, who served previously as board chair of United Way of Greater Atlanta and was former president of Spelman College, a historically black women’s college in Atlanta.
Cole believed we have the power to generate change and transform the tomorrows of people in the community, and through the Child Well-Being agenda, community members work together to build strong foundations and create opportunities for success.
Cole was board chair of United Way of Greater Atlanta as the nonprofit made the shift toward becoming an “impact organization,” Powell said.
“We were making a big shift from the old United Way where you give us money and we firm it out,” Powell said. “Now, you give us money and we have an agenda. We’re trying to impact specific areas. That’s what drives our investment leaders.”
Click here to learn about more ways Cole members can engage in their communities.
Cole Society consists of people in the Greater Atlanta area who have one shared focus: helping others. The mission is the same and Cole Society encourages people who have given to United Way to put more than just their dollars to work.
They are calling people to be leaders in the community.
“I think we are trying to build communities of like-minded people and people that think that it’s important to give back and invest in the health of our community,” Powell said. “What we’re asking people to do is step up and become leaders—that’s why this is called, ‘Leadership Giving.’
“We want to ask people to take a stand.”
To learn more about Cole Society, click here.