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FAQ Tuesday: How are funding decisions made?

Like most organizations, we are challenged to meet the needs of our community by effectively driving change with limited resources. By investing strategically in a streamlined set of priorities that align with our community’s goals and through focusing more deeply on fewer issue areas, we aim to make a more meaningful and measurable impact in the lives of the local residents we serve.  As explained in this overview of our allocations process, volunteer members of our Community Investment Team weigh multiple factors when making funding recommendations to our Board of Directors.  Their deliberations include an assessment tool to rate applications based on their quality, alignment with United Way’s funding priorities, and ability to demonstrate measurable results in their respective area of focus. Unfortunately our CIT is faced with the difficult task of not having enough financial resources available to fully meet the needs of many high-quality programs seeking funds.  Despite increased fundraising efforts, over the past three years UWCK grants have only been able to meet 60-76% of total grant requests.  Programs that did not receive funding are encouraged to consult with UWCK to learn from the CIT’s feedback and apply for funding again in the future. UWCK is committed to maximizing the impact of each dollar invested in funded programs but welcomes the opportunity to support agencies through other initiatives, including volunteerism, our AmeriCorps VISTA program, or other initiatives.

We are also proud of the regional nature of our funding process.  Some United Ways operate under a policy where each county served is limited to only the funding they raise.  Given the regional nature of our workforce, where employees frequently cross county lines between home and their jobs, we take a more holistic approach to assessing community needs and what resources are available in each county.  We ensure that each county has locally-based programs serving their community, as well as access to the agencies that cover multiple counties.  We have some donors who choose to designate their gift to a particular county, which can be done within our service area or in partnership with neighboring United Ways.  Our goal is to ensure your dollars stay local and have the impact our donors desire, which is why we accept designations to counties, focus areas, and any of our funded agencies who are vetted by the CIT

In the past, United Way of Central Kentucky awarded funds to as many good causes as possible and passed through funds to a variety of organizations.  While these partnerships undoubtedly had a positive impact on the agencies serving our community and their clients, the many challenges facing our local families continued to persist.  UWCK has taken a more focused approach to reducing poverty through strategic partnerships that drive preventative efforts.  Through transitioning to a Community Impact model of operations and funding, we not only want to make a more measurable and lasting difference in the region but also keep the problems we are trying to remedy from occurring in the first place.  This shift has come with an increased emphasis on results and funded partners’ ability to work collaboratively to achieve outcomes determined through years of Community Impact research.  We report back to the community annually regarding steps taken to understand the community’s aspirations and focus resources to achieve these local goals.  We also issue a quarterly Impact Report to share more frequent updates on the results achieved through your support.  Take a moment to sign up for this e-newsletter by using the sign up box at the top left hand corner and we’ll make sure you get our next edition!

We are grateful to have the type of open relationship with you- the people who make United Way of Central Kentucky possible- where you can freely share your questions and concerns.  Our goal is to help you make an informed decision regarding where to give your hard-earned dollars and valuable time.  We are humbled by the trust you have placed in us and continually strive to be the organization this incredible community deserves.  That’s why we will be regularly answering your frequently asked questions to help you understand where your investment goes.  You are welcome to explore the following questions we frequently encounter about our work anytime on our website.  We would love to hear questions directly from you!  Share what you’ve always wanted to know about UWCK through commenting on our Facebook page, sending a message through our website, or emailing us directly at mstith@unitedwayck.org.

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