March Blog: Annual Investment Process
When I think about all the different aspects of my work in the world of impact, March marks the most exciting time: the Community Action Team (CAT) develops United Way’s annual investment recommendation – a culmination of a year’s worth of work.
One of the best parts, if not the best part, about United Way’s investment process is that it is community owned. The 16 local volunteers on the CAT have the responsibility of creating the funding application, evaluating programs for quality and impact, and then deciding how our Community Action Fund will be invested into those programs. My role is simply to guide the process and provide information and insight when needed. Truly it is our volunteers on CAT, and our board of directors, who make the decisions for how funds are invested. They ensure that your dollars are invested directly into local programs, meaning the United Way is funding direct service to those in need and keeping your donor dollars in Sheboygan County.
This year, we had 41 programs from 25 agencies apply to United Way’s Community Action Fund for funding. CAT members use nine criteria focused on the program’s impact, outcome measurements, financial sustainability and collaboration. The scores for the criteria are then used to determine funding amounts for the programs, which is where we are right now.
We are lucky to have a dedicated trio of CAT members who serve on the CAT Subcommittee. Using the amount of dollars raised during campaign, this subcommittee determines the percentage of the Community Action Fund that goes into each of United Way’s focus area: Health, Education and Financial Stability. These volunteers then analyze all the scores for each program to put together a recommendation.
This recommendation goes before the full CAT, before going to the UWSC executive committee, finance committee and finally, full board of directors for approval. It’s so exciting when the work comes together. The reward of that work is knowing the grand impact it has in this community.
I’m in my eighth year of involvement in this process, first as a volunteer and now as staff. I am so lucky to work with the volunteers on CAT. They are some of the most dedicated and thoughtful people I have ever met. They put in roughly 80 hours of volunteer time annually into this process to ensure our community dollars are invested into local programs that will have the greatest impact on our community.
I’m so grateful for the members of CAT, for their time and energy into this process, and their dedication to this community. And I’m excited to see how our collective dollars will be invested to continue making Sheboygan County better for everyone.
~ Gina Covelli, Director of Community Impact
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