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FAQ Tuesday: How Does UWCK Decide Who to Fund?

The programs we invest in help real people -- which is why real people just like you determine where the donations go. United Way of Central Kentucky brings together local resources through our fundraising efforts and ensures those dollars have the maximum return on the investment our donors deserve.  With over 3,000 nonprofits in Central Kentucky, identifying which programs align with our community’s goals and aspirations is no small task.  The Community Investment process is the method by which local community representatives volunteer to evaluate the proposals from programs seeking UWCK funding.

Many people do not realize that the staff of United Way does not decide who receives grants through our annual funding process. Our role is to help train and consult with agencies so they can craft proposals that best communicate their programs to United Way-trained representatives from the local community who evaluate each proposal.  Every application for funding is vetted by all members of the Community Investment Team (CIT), a committee that includes donors and volunteers who live and work in our community and ultimately make a funding recommendation to UWCK’s Board of Directors.  CIT members are recruited from across the region to ensure representation from all 5 counties served by UWCK and provide a thorough understanding of local needs.  CIT members are thoroughly vetted for any conflicts of interest and may not be employed by any agency or program seeking UWCK funding.  Each Community Investment Team volunteer spends an average of 40 hours vetting and identifying the programs that best align with our work in Education, Financial Stability, Health, and Basic Needs.

During their review of each proposal, CIT members utilize 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. A representative from each applicant program has the opportunity to answer questions and make a brief in-person presentation to the CIT during the review process.  Programs are evaluated for their alignment with UWCK Community Impact goals, financial and organizational management, capacity to achieve projected goals, ability to show measurable results, and the resources it takes to obtain those results. Programs funded in the past will be evaluated on additional measures including compliance with annual Memorandum of Agreement, pursuit of supplemental funding sources, delivery of promised results, and support of the UWCK partnership.  There is no mathematical formula or single factor that the CIT uses to make this decision, rather a complex set of attributes that the CIT must weigh to make an informed decision.  Written feedback is provided to all applicants to strengthen future applications.  Nearly 1,000 hours were invested in last year’s rigorous process which resulted in grants to our funded partners.

Meet your CIT members here and please thank them for their service if you happen to know any of these dedicated volunteers!  Interested in applying for funding in the future?  View last year’s application and supporting guide to understand what is requested of grantees and send us your email address to be notified of future grant opportunities!

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