United Way campaign’s allocations process uses community input
When United Way Galveston County Mainland campaigns for funds every Fall, some might wonder what happens to that money once it’s collected. Who decides where the money goes and how do they go about making those decisions?
The process is not driven by United Way administrators, but by about 60 community volunteers
who visit the member agencies that apply for funds, review their requests and make recommendations to the board of directors of the United Way Galveston County Mainland. The board, also composed of volunteers, makes the final decisions.
“I love the allocations system because it’s so accountable to the community,” said Willie Windham, Vice President of UWGCM, a community volunteer who chairs one of six teams that reviews the agency requests. Windham served as Co-Chair of the allocations council in 2010, which is comprised of the leaders of each team who together submit a final set of disbursement recommendations to the United Way board. “It’s a great concept because it’s a true grassroots system that works,” she said.
When asked how long she has been involved with United Way and the allocation process, she jokingly states “she’s been doing this for about 100 years.”
“As donors,” Windham said, “we can’t all take the time to review the agencies. One of the things I like is that United Way brings together community volunteers who have nothing at stake, volunteers who can take an unbiased look with an outsider’s perspective at the programs and agencies, assess their needs and make recommendations.”
To determine how the money is distributed, six allocation teams of ten-to-eleven community volunteers review as many as five agencies. The agencies are usually grouped together by the type of services they offer. These groups include Income, Education and Health, and each agency can appear in more than just one group.
The teams review outcome models, data, budgets and agencies’ improvements and particular concerns. They learn about agency objectives, clients, collaborations, gaps in services and any emerging issues the agencies are facing.
Helping the allocation teams with this process is United Way Galveston County Mainland’s, Chris Delesandri, Resource Development Director; Betty Willis, Finance Director and Leslie Jackson, Administrative Assistant.
The teams then decide how much should be allocated to each agency; these decisions are based on the impact of the programs, programming initiatives, community needs and other parameters.
The leader of each team is a member of the allocations Panel Leaders, which subsequently meets and reviews each team’s recommendations. The Allocations Committee Chair presents recommendations to the board, which designates the funds.
If you are interested in the allocations process, in learning more about the benefits the health and human service agencies provide, or in volunteering in Galveston County, contact United Way Galveston County Mainland at 409-948-4211.