Bill Crim: Caring for Our Community

September 10, 2015
Author: Julie Roberts

Bill Crim was named the president and CEO of United Way of Salt Lake (UWSL) just this May, but he has been involved with the organization and with the nonprofit world in general for years. Crim has helped UWSL transform itself from simply a fundraising operation to one of Salt Lake’s most influential nonprofit organizations—one that is focused on creating large-scale change in the community.

Do you have any changes planned for UWSL?

What I would tell you are two things. One, as an organization and as a broader community, we have been changing the way that UWSL works and what its role is and the way communities work together and how we work on achieving results for kids and families. We have been doing that for more than a decade. That work of community transformation and solving complex social problems takes a long time. And we are staying the course.

We are seeing great success in these partnerships and in the communities where we work, and we need to stay on that path until we have assured that every child in the communities where we work has the opportunity to be healthy from birth, to succeed in school through college or other post-secondary education, and to have a financially stable life. In sum, we are going to continue to do what we have been doing.

The other important thing to know is that Deborah Bayle [UWSL’s previous president and CEO] has left an incredibly strong organization with an incredibly high-functioning board of directors and an incredibly talented staff. Continuing to build on that is our path, but UWSL is not an organization that needs to change course.

How did you get involved in the nonprofit world in the first place?

I started volunteering in college through the University of Utah’s Bennion Center. They got me involved, and I got exposed to social problems I haven’t seen before and saw a way of working to solve those problems that really inspired me. This helped me to find my passion for working in the community, and I’ve continued since then.

What keeps you motivated in your position?

The first thing is that the need to give kids a better chance at success is something that comes both from a compassionate place, and that motivates me—but it also comes from the perspective of believing that no matter how well off we are now, a society that allows deep poverty to exist ends up being not its best self. We are all poorer, I think, when where children are born or their zip codes predicts how many opportunities they will have. We are a community and a country that can do so much better, and we owe it to kids and to ourselves to do better.

The second thing is seeing that change is possible. Communities can get measurably better. Entire schools and neighborhoods can see progress when they work together. The third thing is the people you end up working with … in every sector—business, government, schools, neighborhoods, co-workers, colleagues—you’re surrounded all day long by people who want to make a difference and want to bring the world to a better place.