For over 50 years, United Way has been in the Chippewa Valley supporting community needs. Dollars raised by United Way have helped fund many area programs that serve our local population. Now, our United Way has taken the next step in helping to ensure not only that those who face challenges or crisis have access to important services, but that we work to solve root causes of issues that perpetuate these situations. Below are questions and answers related to our changing model that you may have. As always, we also welcome your questions directly by calling 715-834-5043, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHY HAS UNITED WAY CHANGED?
Community issues have become more complex, and are getting worse. At the same time, the costs to serve community needs are outpacing our fundraising efforts. United Way decided it must adjust how we serve the community by focusing on community-wide, prioritized issues that will reduce overall need.
By focusing on the root causes of issues, we can reduce need in our population and make our community stronger. The more lives we can stabilize through preventative services, the less demand there is on human services so they can serve our population better.
WHY DID UNITED WAY STOP FUNDING SOME PROGRAMS?
It must first be understood that United Way dollars have always been distributed based on a grant cycle period, and never intended to be continuous (and this has been clearly stated in grant award documentation to organizations.) United Way did not “pull” funding from any organization; however, some organizations who had received dollars in the past were not awarded dollars for the July 2015 through June 2018 grant cycle as part of the competitive application process.
United Way currently has 1.6 million dollars available for allocation in the community. Approximately $3 million was requested by community organizations. So, how do we best invest this money? We asked grant applicants that they align with specific goals and outcomes based on plans developed by local experts in the areas of education, income and health. These plans were carefully produced over years of work to focus on critical issues in our community affecting the largest number of people in Chippewa and Eau Claire counties.
By focusing on these issues and bringing programs together in a coordinated effort to tackle these issues, we have the best chance of doing the most good and helping the most people.
HOW DID UNITED WAY DETERMINE WHAT PROGRAMS RECEIVE FUNDING?
The United Way grant application process was competitive. RFPs (Request for Proposals) were sent out to well over 100 organizations and open to the community-at large. Programs would need to: (1) align with specific elements of our plans, (2) demonstrate a proven model for measuring outcomes, and (3) collaborate with at least one other area agency or organization.
Our advisory councils, comprising over 30 volunteers who are professionals in the areas of education, income, health, as well as a special volunteer council for basic needs, reviewed applications based on a thorough point system. Programs that advanced in the application process were then given a site visit, and once again scored based on that visit. In each point of review, scoring was done both individually and then as a group for comparison, with final consensus reached by all members Each area determined its prioritized list of programs and then dollars were allocated.
The decision not to fund any particular program is in no way a reflection on that program and what it contributes to the community. Reasons for non-funding included the reality that some programs did not align as well as others with United Way’s community action plans, some programs submitted poorly written applications, some programs did a poor job presenting information or providing documentation during the site visits. In some cases, there was just not enough dollars in a particular area to provide a grant to all of the programs worthy of funding.
I’M CONFUSED WHY A CERTAIN PROGRAM DIDN’T GET FUNDING WHEN IT SEEMS LIKE THEY WOULD BE A GOOD FIT WITH ONE OF YOUR INITIATIVES.
There are a wide range of possibilities as to why a program may not have been eligible for United Way funds. It may have been that the program was not focused on an initiative’s target population (age/income/situation). It could be that a program was unable to measure outcomes of their programs (essentially, ability to follow and record progress long-term with clients they serve in order to report pertinent data). It might be that a program, while highly effective in one particular aspect, was simply not able to focus on a specific issue area related to United Way’s initiatives.
Our initiatives are laser-focused on the root causes of issues affecting quality of life in our area. This is because we must ensure that the funds entrusted to us by the community will help the most people possible and do the most good.
HOW MUCH TIME DID YOU GIVE CURRENT PROGRAMS TO PREPARE FOR THIS CHANGE?
In 2011, existing United Way program partners were notified that our United Way was shifting to a new model and that funding requirements would be changing. All program partners were provided current funding dollars for the next 4 years to allow them time to prepare and find alternate sources of income. Program partners were kept informed of every advance in our plan development, and provided the finished plans as soon as they were available.
In January of 2014, current program partners were given the timetable of the grant application process and the requirements. The process lasted until early December 2014, with final decisions made by our Board of Directors on January 16, 2015.
WHY IS UNITED WAY DECIDING WHAT THE IMPORTANT ISSUES OF OUR COMMUNITY ARE?
It wasn’t United Way that identified the key issues of our community. It was our community who identified them. We invited community members from education, income and health sectors to our table so they could work together to identify these issues and develop comprehensive plans to address these issues.
Issues were first identified by having community conversations with the public and with our own program partners in 2012 to find out what our population felt were primary barriers to a good quality of life in the Chippewa Valley. This feedback was tallied and compared with local, regional and statewide data. Our volunteer council members then used the resources, data, studies, and proven models available to them within their professions to create plans that would address these issues.
WHAT ARE THE COMMUNITY ISSUES THAT HAVE BEEN IDENTIFIED?
Visit our community impact page and our education, income and health initiative pages to learn all about the issues identified and the goals of our initiatives.
WHAT DETERMINES THE AMOUNT OF FUNDING AN AGENCY AND/OR INITIATIVE RECEIVES?
Initiatives needed a starting point for funding, so it was determined that Education, Income, Health and Basic Needs would each receive 25% of total dollars available. As the plans evolve, however, these percentages may change based on need.
Allocation of dollars to programs is based on the request submitted by the agency, the administration of the program, the number of people served, and the available dollars assigned to the initiative. Our advisory councils recommended the final allocation amounts to the United Way Board of Directors.
HOW ARE DOLLARS ALLOCATED BETWEEN EAU CLAIRE AND CHIPPEWA COUNTIES?
Allocations between the two counties are currently based upon the average campaign dollars raised in previous campaigns before the Chippewa and Eau Claire United Ways consolidated. However, the will of the donor is always honored, should the donor wish to designate the gift.
CAN I STILL DESIGNATE TO MY FAVORITE CHARITY THROUGH UNITED WAY?
Absolutely. We honor all designations, and United Way offers the advantage of payroll deduction to make those donations easy. However, we feel that an investment in United Way is a way to help the most people and do the most good in our community.