FAIRMONT – The United Way of Marion and Taylor Counties will reveal the results of its 2020 campaign Thursday, which collects funds it uses to grant to its partner agencies.
On Tuesday, representatives from nonprofits attended a workshop in order to become funded partners of the United Way. The session was also a refresher course for agencies that already receive United Way funds.
“It’s our annual workshop to open our funding application cycle,” said Brett White, executive director of the United Way of Marion and Taylor Counties. “This is where we begin letting agencies apply for funding each year.”
Guests at the workshop included such local agencies as the Disability Action Center, the Soup Opera, Family Resource Network, Learning Options, Scott Place Shelter and the Connecting Link, agencies that have all received United Way funding in the past.
While they have become repeat partners of the United Way, White said it is important that each organization go through this process each year to ensure the agencies are continuing their work.
“We vet our agencies every single year so that if circumstances have changed or if there has been any, God forbid negligence, that it comes to light every year,” White said. “No matter how long they have been applying for funding even if it’s 60 years, they still have to apply and go through the process every single year.”
Each organization’s representatives can decide how much funding to apply for, in order to fulfill the projects and programs they do each year.
“The application process is competitive,” said Emily Swain, community impact director of the United Way. “So it’s important for us, as an organization, to make sure that it is a competitive process so that we are fulfilling the agencies that have the most need and the most impact with their programs.”
Swain also said that United Way aims to provide funds for organizations that are able to utilize their allocated funds for the biggest impact, so this application process helps the volunteer board to decide who to give to.
“Programs change every year so that’s why it’s so critical for organizations to apply every year,” Swain said. “Just to make sure all of the funding that we’re allocating is really doing the best work.”
The Literacy Volunteers of Marion County has received funding for several years, and needs the funding to continue its work promoting reading and literacy throughout the county.
“What occurs being a funded partner, we complete an application letting the United Way know exactly what Literacy Volunteers is about,” said Kay Nesselrotte, director of the LVMC. “The money we get from the United Way is supplemented by our fundraising, but we could not operate without the United Way.”
According to White, agencies need to meet certain qualifications each year to be approved to receive funding. Qualifying organizations have to be a 501(c)3 nonprofit, provide copies of financial sheets, have a volunteer governed board, have a presence in Marion or Taylor Counties. The programming they are applying to fund has to fall into financial, education or income stability areas.
“Ultimately, they have to be meeting a need in our community,” White said. “The group that decides on the funding are volunteers from across our entire community, so they have to approve that the agency is meeting a need and want to fund it.”
White said that the mission of the United Way is not just to raise money, but get that money into the hands of people in organizations that can use it for the greatest impact. He said that with the end of the United Way Campaign comes the beginning of the allocation period, which can be a difficult balancing act.
“The raising the money is the easy part, giving it out is the harder part,” White said. “The need of the community is always greater than we have money available for.”
Applications for United Way funding are available online at unitedwaymtc.org, and are due by 5 p.m. on March 13.