Tuesday, February 5, 2013

3 Reasons why we love United Way

Recently, I faced the largest single grant application in my tenure at Salvation Army (all 6 months of it). Not in size, no, but in grant request amount. 

I tackled the mountain of (metaphorical) paperwork (it's an electronic application) that is the annual Tulsa Area United Way (TAUW) Request for Funding. The application for 2014 funding was a beast- it included financial information, detailed information about our Advisory Board, as well as reporting on all 6 of our United Way funded projects, IN ADDITION TO the actual agency request for funding. 

Due to some scheduling issues, I ended up only having about a week to work on the application/report, whereas most other agencies have been crafting their application since mid-Decemeber.We were a little busy around here.  :)

You may be wondering, why is the United Way application such a big deal? and why its well worth the effort? Well, three main reasons:

Key support for programs:
The United Way is a key component of the financial stability of our major programs; annually, between 13 and 15% of the overall agency budget comes from United Way funding. The 6 major programs that TAUW funding supports are:
  1. Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Tulsa- neighborhood clubs offering academic, sport and social programming for lower income youth, ages 5-18.
    • North Mabee
    • Mabee Red Shield
    • Sand Springs
    • Sapulpa
    • Broken Arrow
  2. Community Centers- adult health and educational programming offered at each area Boys and Girls Club.
  3. Emergency Shelter- Northeast Oklahoma's largest overnight shelter with a capacity of 350, serving 3 meals a day for guests and a public dinner meal nightly
  4.  Emergency Financial Assistance- a homeless prevention and financial aid program for utilities, medical and other essential service
  5. Supportive Housing Program- a transitional housing program for homeless families
  6. Project Able- a permanent housing program for recovering substance addicts.

Community support
In addition, being part of the United Way is important to The Salvation Army because of the connections that it brings to other agencies- to avoid duplication of services as well as to form partnerships and make referrals in the event that our programs are not a good fit for clients seeking assistance- and connections that the public can have with us as a result.

One of our favorite events during the year is the annual Day of Caring. Day of Caring, to me, is mind-blowing for it's coordination and for the sheer number of people, from different companies across Green Country.

From TAUW Fast Facts:
The Tulsa Area United Way Day of Caring is one of the largest such events in the nation, with 4,125 volunteers completing more than 33,000 hours of work at area parks, schools and non-profit organizations.

2012's Day of Caring was a great experience: we had over 300 volunteers working for The Salvation Army. And those volunteers undertook more than 30 different projects at our various locations and volunteered for a total of 1,280 hours!

Volunteers lay flooring for a storage building at the BA Boys and Girls Club.

As volunteer coordinator Jenny McElyea said in her Day of Caring blog post,

"The great thing about Day of Caring is that it’s a perfect testament to what people can do when they work together!  This year projects ranged from a cook-out for the guests at the Center of Hope courtesy of Mazzio's to the cleaning of the fence line at the Sapulpa Boys and Girls club, courtesy of the Williams Companies."

Volunteers from ONEOK paint a new picnic table they bought for the North Mabee club.
We are looking forward to attending the "Live United" Awards Banquet next week, where top companies and organizations will be recognized for their volunteer and monetary contributions to this year's campaign (the largest in TAUW history!). We love being a part of the success of the annual United Way campaign, not just as recipients of funds, but as donors ourselves.

Donor Confidence
Lastly, we really value being a United Way member agency because of the confidence that it gives our donors. As a United Way agency, we are held to some pretty rigorous financial standards and must submit our financials every year upon application for funds. Of the hundreds of non-profit organizations in the Tulsa area, only 60 are Tulsa Area United Way member organizations.

After we, the agencies, submit our applications in January, review panels are assembled and conduct assessments.  
"The Panels conduct in-depth assessments of each agency according to the following criteria: community need, program effectiveness, fiscal and administrative strength and additional resources leveraged by the agency. The panels hold several meetings during the spring to study agency applications for funding. In addition, a separate, independent Audit Committee pours over each agency's financial statements.
After reviewing the applications, panel members participate in site visits of each agency, followed by conferences with agency staff. Finally, the panels recommend funding for each agency, including their rationale, and funding priorities within and between agencies."


Not only do United Way donors benefit from this process, in knowing that each agency is closely assessed, but so do our Salvation Army donors.  Our accounting processes are efficient and our overall budget benefit from the stability of a regular deposits from the TAUW.


You can find out more about the TAUW's fiscal responsibility here.

Hope you've learned something new about the United Way and feel proud to be part of community that so enthusiastically supports non-profit work!

 -Vicki

p.s. Check out the 2012 campaign video, it's great!



No comments:

Post a Comment