Each year, agencies applying for United Way funding must complete applications and interviews as part of a comprehensive allocation process.
The applications and accompanying multi-year budgets, IRS 990s, and audited financial statements are reviewed by teams of community volunteers who identify questions unanswered by the documentation or areas of potential concern. They then meet with Board and Staff members from their assigned agencies to ask questions and decide how each agency’s request answers the following questions:
1. Is the service provided vital to this community?
With limited resources and significant needs, it makes sense to fund programs that will make an immediate impact on individuals and families and/or result in a long-term impact on the community as a whole.
2. Is the service being provided efficiently?
Using budgets, IRS documents, and audited financial statements, the teams review how agencies used their resources in the previous two years as well as how they plan to use them in the coming year to determine the efficiency of each operation.
3. Is the service effective?
Good people and good intentions are just not good enough. All good investments provide returns, and in the case of non-profits, those returns are in the form of lives improved and lives saved. To prove that the services they provide are effective, agencies provide measurable and documentable outcomes that they have achieved over the past year and set outcome goals for the next.
Following their agency visits, the allocation teams meet again to develop their recommendations for funding. Team Captains then meet for one last time to present those recommendations and negotiate the final allocations based on the amount available to distribute.
Pledges vs. Dollars Allocated
While we might receive pledges, we know that we won’t have nearly that much to allocate to our partner agencies. Following are some of the reasons why:
- 1. In the past, unpaid pledges due to the sale/closure of a place of business and the employment separation, relocation, or financial hardships of those making pledges has resulted in as much as $250,000 in unpaid pledges.
- 2. Some donors choose to designate the funds we collect to non-Partner Agencies and to United Ways in neighboring counties. This year, that total is in excess of $200,000. We will recoup a portion of that in designations made to our United Way from campaigns outside Morgan County, but unfortunately, that portion is typically very small.
- 3. While our United Way runs the campaign for state employees working in Morgan County, the several thousand dollars collected is paid separately from allocations.
- 4. United Way of Morgan County has four paid staff members to oversee the campaign and manage the daily operations of a busy nonprofit. The State of Alabama and most nonprofit “watchdogs” list 30% as the limit for Administrative and Fundraising expenses; but as documented on our most recent IRS form 990, United Way of Morgan County’s Administrative and Fundraising expenses totaled just 13.2% of revenue. And by shopping locally whenever possible, we are able to keep more than 98 cents out of every dollar right here in North Alabama.
Dues to United Way Worldwide
A frequent concern expressed to our staff is how much United Way of Morgan County pays to United Way Worldwide for the use of the name and logo, training, and national advertising seen most prominently through a partnership with the National Football League.
In 2021, we paid $16,336 in dues to United Way Worldwide. And because we are a member in good standing, Morgan County is eligible for Federal Grants administered through United Way Worldwide and paid through the Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP). Last year, those grants totaled $74,879, and so far for 2022, we’ve been awarded $87,468.
Joining United Way’s President on our local EFSP Board are representatives of the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, National Council of Churches of Christ, Jewish Federation of North American, Catholic Charities, and the homeless/formerly homeless, along with the Chair of the Morgan County Commission. Together, these Board members review the applications of local charities to allocate the funds received. In 2021, the following charities received funding through this program:
- Committee on Church Cooperation
- Crisis Center of North Alabama
- Hands Homes for Girls and Boys
- Neighborhood Christian Center
- Salvation Army