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Who decides where the money goes?

Every year your United Way diligently works to raise a hearty campaign that will help to support nonprofit organizations and initiatives in the coming year. We spend an inordinate amount of time conducting community needs assessments and determining the most acute and critical needs across the Mid-Ohio Valley. We strive to select the programs each year that will best address the evolving needs and in our region. There are so many great organizations with wonderful people doing important work in our community. How do we select? How do we choose the “best”? How do we identify where our monies should be invested? How do we know that we are supporting a sustainable and solvent organization? Welcome to our Community Investment Process. It is a robust, data driven and complex process that churns amazing results.

Organizations compete on an annual and competitive basis for United Way Funding, There is no assurance that previous funding dictates future fusing. Every year is a new opportunity for the organization to demonstrate the community’s need for its services and programming. Every year the organizations financial standing is evaluated. Each funding cycle assess the true impact of the applicant’s work — not just in warm and fuzzy feel good kind of stories, but through real evidence based reporting. We want to know measurables. We want to know the actual numbers of clients served, how many times they were served, what other organizations are serving them, etc. We are interested in how an organization collaborates with other groups in the community to avoid duplication of services and to maximize impact. We want to see that the clients being served are moving towards a point of progression and sustainability……after all we would ultimately love to see many of the services we support in the community simply dissipate. Wouldn’t it be a grand thing if homeless shelters and food pantries went out of business for lack of viable clients…but I digress a bit there. We seek strong, impactful and well managed organizations to support with our community investment dollars.

Strong programming and measurable impact is critical, but the most impactful organization in the public’s eyes can still have turmoil below the surface that jeopardizes is sustainability. An organization must be financially solvent to survive in today’s nonprofit world (or any sector.) When a nonprofit organization marches forward enthusiastically with its heartfelt mission but neglects to keep its house in order, it eventually spells disaster. Solvency is imperative for sustainability…and no matter how much the Director, staff and board believe in the mission, if the organization is not solvent the work will eventually be disrupted and discontinued. That is heart breaking for the organization, but even more so for the clients needing the service. Our Community Investment process utilizes financial experts in the community to review the submitted financials of every applicant. We review professionally audited statements. We check the box that organizations are in good standing with regulatory boards and licensing bodies. We do that extra leg work because we are committed to being good stewards of the money that donors entrust to us.

United Way Alliance of the Mid-Ohio Valley values community involvement as one of the greatest strengths toward helping us evaluate and meet the needs of our community. Before any program of a United Way affiliated agency receives funding, it is carefully scrutinized by this team of volunteers who seek to make their community stronger and lend their voice to this process.

We are now forming the Citizen Review Panel for the current United Way funding cycle. We would like to invite you to be a part of this critical process. It is an opportunity to lend your voice in deciding which non-profits will receive United Way financial support to further their good work. Every year, we receive an abundance of funding requests and unfortunately, not all of them can be funded. By using local community leaders, business professionals and concerned citizens, we ensure that the voice of the Mid-Ohio Valley is represented in each decision that is made. As a member of our Citizens Review Panel, you become the eyes and ears of thousands of donors. The information you receive during this process is one of the most critical pieces in the funding process, as your completed review is used by our Community Investment Committee for decisions regarding funding and allocation amounts.

Want to have a voice in this process? Do you want to help make the decision about the gifts from your neighbors and co-workers? Are you willing to give some time to help drive critical impact in your community? Reach out to us. We want you to join our team. You can give as little as three hours over the next six weeks. Sharing your thoughts on Facebook can be entertaining to your friends and maybe aggravating to others. It is an outlet, but it is a dead end. Do you have strong opinions about what our community needs and the directions we need to step? Do you want your voice to be heard? Become a Citizen Reviewer. Your voice needs to be heard and we want to give you the microphone.

Call our office 304-580-0570 or email sdecicco@uwamov.com and we will help you get involved.

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Stacy DeCicco is the executive director of the United Way Alliance of the Mid-Ohio Valley.

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