Why did United Way choose to invest in Community Impact strategies that improve outcomes for Education, Income and Health? In 2001, United Way began the dialogue to determine how to better meet the increasing needs of the community and the demand for higher accountability to donors, all while facing decreased campaign income. After eight years of research, United Way determined to focus efforts in three areas that provide the building blocks for a better life – Education, Income and Health. Our goal is to focus our efforts on attacking the root cause issues that create increased dependency on social services and decrease the demand for more money to fund more services. The strategies that were funded in 2009 were determined after four years of research on local and national practices that could make the most difference in increasing graduation rates, increasing financial stability in families, and increasing the health and independence of older adults.
Who are United Way’s partners? Everyone in our community is our partner. We can only make a difference when we all work together to improve conditions in our community. United Way partners with over 100 organizations to advance the common good in Education, Income and Health. We invest donor dollars in programs and services through local, state and national partnerships in these three key areas because they are the building blocks for a better life for all.
When United Way changed to a Community Impact model, were agencies warned they might not receive funds? United Way notified all funded agencies in 2004 that our funding model was changing. Since then, United Way has encouraged program providers to diversify their revenue streams so United Way wasn’t their primary source of funding. We have included agencies on all our Impact Councils and they helped draft the Request for Proposal (RFP). All organizations that apply for United Way funds understand they are applying for funds that will produce positives outcomes in Education, Income and Health. The application process is competitive, and we have no way of knowing which programs will receive funds until all are reviewed. Proposals that have the best program designs that align with our work in these three key areas are the programs that receive funding.
Since United Way Community Impact focuses on these three areas, do you dictate to the agencies and their boards how to operate their programs? United Way does not dictate how programs should operate. We partner with organizations to design effective programs and measure outcomes. United Way uses outcomes to measure change to help us to know if, as a community, we’re making a difference. When needed, we work with program providers to implement changes that can improve their results. Through this process, our community is ensured every program they support through United Way is making the most significant impact possible.
Who is eligible to apply for United Way funds? All nonprofit organizations are eligible. Through the RFP application process, organizations may apply for funds for programs that will improve community outcomes in Education, Income and Health.
Why does United Way exist if not to financially support agencies? We exist to advance the common good and help provide a better life for all. Our Community Impact model allows us to do a better job of fulfilling this mission and increases our level of accountability. Many successful solutions don’t require money – they happen when we pool our resources and collaborate around the issues that affect us all. United Way is the only organization in our community to research community conditions, mobilize the resources, modify programs when needed, and report the outcomes. Through this strategy, we can truly help provide a better life for all.
Why doesn’t Camp Fire, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts receive funding? United Way funds programs, not agencies. Youth programs are funded based on their outcomes in increasing graduation rates. These are all excellent programs, but not ones that meet this objective. Funded youth programs include: quality daily after- school programs, in-school programs and weekend programs that address students who are at an increased risk to drop out of school. These programs are funded because they have proven to make the most difference in children’s success in school. Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Camp Fire received funds through March, 2009.
Why did Iowa Park Friendly Door decline United Way funds? United Way requires an audit from any organization that has over $250,000 in revenue so we can ensure fiscal accountability to our donors and community. We request quarterly reports to measure progress and help programs make improvements when needed. Friendly Door asked us to exempt them from the partner requirement to provide a half-page quarterly outcomes report and an independent financial audit. United Way declined this provision to our contract and, as a result, Friendly Door refused funding.
Why do programs receive less funding than in the past? Because there’s less money to give – almost $400,000 less. United Way cannot fund everything, or we’d only be able to give a very small amount to a lot of programs. If we did that, it would decrease our ability to improve lives and provide for a better life for all.
Why should I give to United Way if my favorite program provider doesn’t get funding? Because if you want to see real improvements in our community, you should invest in work that is focusing on improving our community as a whole and providing a better life for all.
Can I designate my gift to a specific program provider? You may designate your United Way gift to any of our partner agencies.
How does United Way fund internal programs like VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance)? United Way has a mission to advance the common good, and to accomplish this we leverage resources and use all the tools available to us. National and local partnerships enable us to implement programs like EITC/VITA in our community at a very low cost. This programs directly link to improving outcomes in Income.
Why should I give to United Way when times are tough? Community funding may decrease, but the needs never go away – and in tough economic times, needs in our community only become greater. When we all pull together to make a difference, we will see long-term change. When children enter school ready to learn, when more youth graduate on time, when families are self-sufficient and when our neighbors are healthy, we all win. The alternative is just too expensive in terms of increased taxes to fund public assistance programs, to fight the increase in crime and in higher healthcare costs.