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FAQ Tuesday: How do designations work?

UWCK is proud to offer our investors the flexibility to direct their donations to the issues that are most important to them.  Donors have the option of giving to any of our 35 funded programs or 25 partner agencies, a county served by a United Way, or any of our Education, Financial Stability, Health, or Basic Needs Impact Areas.

How has this process changed from the past?

As part of our commitment to transitioning from an agency that exists solely to fundraise and toward a Community Impact organization, several years ago our Board of Directors adopted a new designation policy to allow us to be more effective with UWCK’s resources.  In the past, donors could give to any 501c3 nonprofit through our annual campaign when making their pledge.  We would frequently process very small designations made to a variety of agencies from both inside our service area and across the country.  Often designations were written in a way that was very broad, such as a $20 donation earmarked for “any 4H program” or “breast cancer.”  Our staff would then have to conduct extensive follow-up to make sure these funds were handled in accordance with donor intentions.  In order to maximize our local impact, we developed a more focused designation policy, included on the back of all pledge forms, that includes still offering designations to programs vetted by the CIT, any county served by a United Way, and any of our Focus Areas.  This change allows us to be more impactful and efficient with staff time, thereby keeping our overhead as low as possible while ensuring that proper internal controls are in place for the agencies that we are directing dollars to. 

What if I still want to designate to an agency that is not a funded program?

We continue to pass on designations to non-funded partners if they are in excess of $1000 collectively, meaning that as long as that threshold is met from multiple donors the designations will be forwarded to the recipient agency.  If that threshold is not met, the funds will go into our Community Investment fund, which is the pool of resources available for making grant awards to local programs through our CIT process.  The dollars will still stay in our local community and will be used to support the most effective solutions that meet our region’s most urgent needs.

How are those designations handled?

When a donor writes in a particular funded agency or program on their pledge card or through online giving, we track all those designations to guarantee they are passed on as intended.  Those dollars are directed to go the destination as requested, even if that partner does not apply for a UWCK grant in the course of that campaign year.  Designations are counted as “first dollars in” to a grant award, as described in the following examples:

Good Works Agency is a 2015 funded partner of UWCK, having completed the rigorous Community Investment process, and is one of the designation options listed on the our annual campaign’s pledge cards.  Good Works Agency receives $5,000 in designations from all donors to our campaign.  When the 2016 grant application process begins, Good Works Agency requests $20,000 in UWCK funding.  If the Community Investment Team recommends fully-funding their request at $20,000, $5,000 would already be guaranteed through designations and $15,000 would come from our unrestricted Community Investment fund.  If Good Works Agency does not apply for a grant or the CIT is not able to fund their request at all with Community Investment dollars, UWCK would still issue payment for their $5,000.

Designations on a county level and to Impact Areas work similarly.  For example, if $10,000 is designated by our donors to Meade County, the CIT will consider grant requests to agencies serving this part of our region and ensure that the county has at least $10,000 of program funding. 

Our funded partners are listed on our website if this information would be helpful as you decide whether to invest in UWCK. 

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