Every year in our region something remarkable happens – thousands of individuals and companies donate millions of dollars to help through United Way. These dollars make a real impact in the lives of one in three local people through programs and services administered through this United Way and United Way partner agencies.
United Way works closely with its partner agencies to ensure that your generous donations are carefully and thoughtfully put to good use to help the most people. This hard work is done by hundreds of dedicated individuals who volunteer their time to make these important decisions that impact us all.
1. Volunteer Recruitment
The United Way allocations process starts by bringing together nearly 400 individuals who live and work in our 16-county region in Illinois and Missouri. These volunteers serve as the eyes and ears of the more than 200,00 donors. Volunteers participate in a 7-month process to ensure that funds are distributed fairly, objectively, and with great consideration for their best use.
2. Volunteer Education
Volunteers learn about the importance of building a stronger community by investing in a system of quality agencies that help people in need. Training includes an overview of key issues in the nonprofit community, the allocations process, and the United Way’s Quality Standards- a best practices tool developed by volunteers and experts. Each non-profit is required to meet the standards to maintain United Way membership and receive funding.
3. On-Site Visits
Armed with the Quality Standards, volunteer groups are dispatched to visit United Way member agencies. They conduct an annual in-depth review of the agencies through site visits, community impact presentations, and reviews of reporting submitted by the agencies. All told, each of the more than 170 member agencies are visited by small teams of volunteers.
Following the site visits, volunteers meet to discuss their findings about each agency. They also develop specific recommendations for improvement to help agencies stay stable and strong.
Agencies request funding based on their particular needs and programs. Funding requests can be as basic as operating costs to as advanced as developing a new program. Based on the knowledge gained through the allocations process, volunteers now must come to consensus about how much money each agency will receive in the coming year. Volunteers determine funding needs based on the merits of the requests and the capacity of the agencies. While allocations vary greatly depending on agency size and impact, United Way volunteers invest more than $1 million in our region each week.
6. Approval and Distribution
Once all of the allocations recommendations are compiled, they are vetted through a three-part approval process, ending with a final decision by the United Way Executive Committee. Following approval, funds are distributed to the agencies in the next fiscal year.
Interested in volunteering? You can become an allocations panel volunteer.
Adopted from the United Way of Greater St. Louis website.