How the United Way distributes funds
By Paula Jero
Marshfield Area United Way Executive Director
“It is kind of like having to choose between your children.” This was a statement that was made by one of our 30 volunteers that were involved in allocating funds that were raised during the 2015 campaign to area nonprofits. It really was an accurate statement.
Requests to United Way for 2016 totaled almost $682,000, and with $530,000 available to grant, it made for some very difficult decisions. How do the volunteers decide? Through an extensive process of application reviews, interviews, and deliberations, individuals representing local businesses determined the amount of funding for programs applying for United Way funding.
A number of factors weigh into the decision making process. How critical is this service for our community? Without United Way funding, will this program cease to operate? If United Way is supporting multiple programs for an agency, can we afford to support all of the programs, or do we need to determine which program is most important for our community and focus our funding in that area? How many people does this program impact? What does the organization have available in reserve funds? What are the outcomes for the program?
It really was a difficult process this year. All of the programs that submitted applications are excellent contributors to the quality of life in our community. However, there was simply not enough money to fund all of the programs that applied for support.
During the fall United Way campaign, we tell potential donors that funding stays local and that it directly translates into what we have available to invest into our community. It is hard since donors all have programs and organizations that they want United Way to support. Unfortunately, there are just not enough resources to support all of the programs.
I hope that in the future when individuals are asked to support United Way, they remember that there is a direct correlation between the amount United Way is able to raise in the community and the support of needed services. Be generous. Your community needs you.