Impact Player: Jim Flagg


Each issue of Advantage features an “Impact Player” from the United Way of Northeast Florida, as a means to highlight the contributions that local volunteers make to our community.

Jim Flagg is vice president of Ulrich Research Services in Orange Park. He is also a member of the United Way of Northeast Florida’s board of directors, as well as a member of its Volunteer Engagement committee and a volunteer with the RealSense Prosperity campaign.



How did you get involved in the United Way?

I moved to Jacksonville in 1984 to work for Barnett Bank. I had come from Indianapolis and had done work there for the United Way.  Shortly after I arrived here, the vice chairman of Barnett Bank asked me to go to United Way to help administer a survey. I added some tracking questions to Barnett’s quarterly customer survey to gauge public awareness of United Way. From there, I got involved in one of their strategic planning processes and then I joined the marketing committee in the 1990s. So, I originally went to United Way because I was sent there by my boss in effect, but I was happy to do that.


How have you since helped?

You want to contribute whatever skill you may have that might be of service. Since I’m a research guy, I always end up doing research. Every three years United Way does a public opinion poll. It’s a national survey but local United Ways can participate by having the poll conducted in their community. Even though I don’t conduct the survey, I get involved with looking at questions and presenting results to the board. It’s useful because you get the national perspective. I also have done special projects from time to time and I am in my second year of serving on the board.


What program(s) are you most involved with?

For the past four years, I have been more involved in the RealSense Prosperity campaign. Another Barnett Bank connection asked me to measure the impact of financial education classes to see if those who took classes through RealSense were better off six months after. The purpose of the process is to demonstrate that contributing to the RealSense campaign does have a positive outcome on peoples’ lives. We’ve been able to show there have been significant statistical improvements.

RealSense is a collaborative effort of many organizations, including the Federal Reserve, major banks and nonprofit organizations. To me, it’s the essence of what United Way means when they talk about the community impact model. Instead of just collecting donations and distributing them to nonprofit organizations as they did in the past, they bring together the nonprofits working in the same field and they provide a variety of services through a collaborative effort. It involves bringing people together who share common goals to do what people want, which is to collaborate and to combine their resources to see some significant change happen. It’s the best model for nonprofit work, so I’m happy to be involved.


What have you learned from the people with whom you connected?

They have a sincere desire to improve their community and they feel good about being involved in initiatives that they know really work for the common good. That’s from a survey of volunteers.

I would say to anyone that the psychological reward you get from being involved, and the friendships you make and the people you meet, are more than ample return on the investment of time you make in volunteering.


How does United Way’s work make our community more attractive to businesses interested in starting and growing here?

We have done public opinion research on attitudes toward nonprofit organizations. The public recognizes there are many, many, many nonprofit organizations. Many of them work in the same field of social change and have common goals. The public would like nonprofit organizations to in effect not overlap and compete so much, and to collaborate and bring their skill sets to tackling a common goal.  I like the United Way model because it’s an effective way of achieving social change by bringing together the best people and organizations to accomplish common goals.


What advice would you give to other small-business leaders interested in engaging with United Way?

They’re good at acknowledging efforts of volunteers. You get a lot of pats on the back that you might not otherwise get on your job. You also get a lot of positive feedback that makes you feel good about yourself and feel good about the community you live in. That’s the essence of what I’ve done and why, and why I continue to stay involved.


United wayAbout United Way
With a rich 90-year history, United Way has earned a reputation as a respected and efficient philanthropic organization. Our long tradition of addressing the human service needs in Duval, Baker, Clay, Nassau, and Northern St. Johns counties is made possible through the commitment of thousands of volunteers, contributors and community partners. Get involved:



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