Local Breadth and Depth of the United Way Means Your Support Touches All of San AngeloOpinion
OPINION — Here are two reasons I give to the United Way of the Concho Valley: Breadth. And depth.
After months of painstakingly reviewing grant applications, visiting local and area nonprofits, and thoroughly vetting those organizations, the United Way has agreed to contribute $755,000 to 19 programs administered by 16 agencies.
Those groups include the Boys and Girls Clubs of San Angelo and Menard, the Children’s Advocacy Center, the Concho Valley Regional Food Bank, the local family shelter, the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council of the Concho Valley, West Texas Counseling and Guidance, and the YMCA. The full list is available for viewing at uwconhcovalley.org.
In partnership with other private, public and governmental entities, United Way agencies work tirelessly to address a host of social needs in our community. Those issues run the gamut from abused and neglected children, to low-income housing, to after-school and daycare, to at-risk teens, to substance abuse, to domestic violence, to hunger, to mental health.
That’s what I mean by breadth.
This year, contributions made to the United Way are providing $336,800 to address health needs, $288,200 related to education, and $130,000 for services linked to low income.
The beauty of a donation to the United Way is that one gift supports all of those agencies working to address those myriads of needs.
The easiest way to do that is through payroll deduction. That is, an hour or two worth of wages is deducted from each paycheck and is sent to the United Way by employers who conduct a workplace campaign. Because I never see that money, I never miss it. Even so, I know the tremendous good it is doing helping neighbors in need.
And when you give to the United Way, you can be assured your gift is making a tangible, measurable impact in someone’s life. Here’s why:
Each agency that applies for United Way funding undergoes a rigorous application process and examination. That’s necessary to ensure the programs we fund are producing the results our donors demand.
Along with completing an application that includes a financial audit, measurable outcomes and specific details of how the nonprofit would spend its United Way funding, each agency is visited by a team of committed community volunteers. While there, those citizens question the nonprofit’s staff and board members on their governance of the organization, their financial management, the hows and whys of their programs, and the impact they are having on human lives.
Those panels then report their findings to another team of 12 volunteers, who also vet every application and ask probing questions of the panel chairs. Our Community Impact Council consists of dedicated and engaged citizens from all walks of life – business, public service, education, the law, banking.
All of this work occurs over months, culminating in the council’s recommending allocations for the coming year to the United Way board of directors. Recommendations are based upon a program’s proven impact, the community need it addresses, the agency’s financial sustainability, and the numbers served.
That’s what I mean by depth. Not every fundraising effort demands that a nonprofit prove its effectiveness and efficiency. The United Way does.
The Community Impact Council this year agreed that funded programs must directly deliver services and that United Way dollars be spent only on expenses that result in that (versus an agency’s routine operational costs).
Just as importantly, the United Way consciously addresses serious social and human needs. One great example is the Ozona Community Center, which applied for and received funding this year for the first time. Those dollars will provide daycare and after-school care in Ozona … without them, there would be virtually none. Can you imagine? A community without daycare and after-school care?
So while many of us may personally support the arts or private education or extracurricular activities, there is complete consensus within the United Way that our mission is to reduce human suffering and to offer aid to the least fortunate among us.
And in doing that, we could use your help.
If you’d like to know more, call us. We will go anywhere anytime to talk about who we are, what we do, how we do it, and why.
If you’d like to volunteer, call us. We’ve got a place for you.
We would also commend the United Way link at sanangelogives.org on May 7. That option not only ensures your gift touches 16 different charitable agencies, but that it will be amplified. So, for United Way frontrunners (those who give $1,000 or more annually), their online gift to the United Way on May 7 will be increased by the San Angelo Area Foundation by approximately 10 percent.
I remain convinced the United Way is the best avenue for ensuring your charitable contributions get used smartly by and for our families, friends and neighbors to address a wide array of needs in our home communities.
Follow the United Way
- Online: uwconchovalley.org
- Facebook: @UnitedWayoftheConchoValley
- Twitter: @UnitedWay_CV
- Instagram: uwconchovalley