Since 1925, Brown County United Way has been a leader in improving the quality of life in our community. Over time we have grown to become not only a charitable fundraiser, but also deeply and actively involved in advocating for and leading positive change in our communities. This need for innovation continues today while we remain rooted in the origins of our legacy. Our ability to support our local system of care and drive long-term transformational change together as a community depends on it.
For many years the majority of the dollars raised by Brown County United Way has helped support many area programs that serve our local population. Now, we have taken the next step in helping to ensure not only that those who face challenges or crises have access to important services, but that we are also working proactively to solve root causes of issues that perpetuate these situations.
Below are questions and answers related to our changing model and evolution as a community partner. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please contact Tom Schoffelman at Tom@browncountyunitedway.org
WHAT IS THE UNTED WAY’S NEW INVESTMENT PLAN?
Over time, our community’s issues have become more complex and, in many ways, are worsening. At the same time, the costs to meet individual and community needs are outpacing local fundraising efforts (including but not limited to United Way). The nonprofit sector and the expectations placed upon it have also shifted significantly.
Brown County United Way has adapted and responded to these challenges by focusing on prioritized issues, approaches and investments that leverage our organization’s unique strengths and maximize our impact. Our Impact Framework strategically invests time, dollars and organizational resources within three levels of influence designed to drive community change:
1) Program Investment – Investments in direct service programs and continuous quality improvement to positively impact individuals.
2) Impact Initiatives – Leading and partnering on efforts to bring about physical and social environment change to improve systems.
3) Advocacy Solutions – Seeking out the voice of the community and advocating for change to influence policies.
This approach capitalizes on United Way’s ability to leverage all three levels simultaneously, which is what ultimately drives large-scale changes in community conditions. Our new 2019-2024 system-of-care grant cycle invited grant applications relating to the program investment level of influence.
HOW DID BROWN COUNTY UNITED WAY DETERMINE WHICH PROGRAMS RECEIVE 2019-2024 SYSTEM OF CARE GRANT FUNDING?
In October 2018 a Call for Partners was sent to eligible organizations. Applications were due in January 2019. We asked grant applicants to align the program(s) they were seeking funding for with one or more of our priority investment areas: education, health, financial wellbeing, and connection to community, while focusing on specific strategies within those areas. Grants and grant amounts were awarded based several factors, including but not limited to available dollars, a strong application score, community needs, and providing a critical direct service within the local system of care.
All of the grant proposals we received were vetted through a three-step review process involving our Impact Councils, Community Investment Committee and Board of Directors. The community members serving on these committees reviewed many worthy applications and faced incredibly difficult decisions.
The decision not to award a grant to any particular program is in no way a negative reflection on that program or what it contributes to the community.
DID UNITED WAY STOP FUNDING SOME PROGRAMS?
United Way dollars have always been invested in local programs according to a grant cycle, and are not intended to be continuous or based on prior funding. This has always been clearly stated in grant-application and award-documentation materials. Some organizations that received grant dollars in the past were not awarded dollars for the new 2019-2024 grant cycle as part of a competitive application process. Some programs chose not to apply.
HOW MUCH TIME DID YOU GIVE PROGRAMS TO PREPARE FOR THIS CHANGE?
In 2012, we publicly communicated that our grant process would be changing as part of a strategic plan to be rolled out over the next six years. Our 2013 grant cycle was extended from two to three years to allow for community input into our process and research on best practices. In 2016 we again extended our grant cycle from two to three years. Program partners were kept informed of every major development in our strategic plan.
During the spring and summer of 2018, program partners and their boards of directors were given the timetable of the application process for the new 2019-2024 grant cycle. The application process was open until early January 2019, with final decisions made by our Board of Directors in March 2019.
WHAT CAN I DO TO SUPPORT THE WORK OF UNITED WAY AND ITS PARTNERS?
Everyone has a role! Over the years we have been extremely fortunate to have had consistent and successful annual fundraising campaigns. However, changing giving trends and local market forces such as corporate closures are impacting the level of dollars raised. Our ability to help support the community’s system of care, achieve stability for more individuals and families, and drive long-term transformational change together with our partners depends on community members’ continued, active support through giving, advocating and volunteering.
Help us make a lasting impact on the community HERE.