United Way of Central Minnesota's Long-Standing Commitment to Financial Stewardship
Trust. Confidence. Peace of mind. Those words are so crucial as community partners make charitable gifts to the United Way of Central Minnesota (UWCM) possible. When partners share resources with us, they mobilize contributions to fight for the health, education and financial stability of every Central Minnesotan every day.
Brent Schmitt volunteered to be a part of United Way's Financial Stability Investment Team in 2007. He felt motivated to uphold the UWCM's commitment to financial integrity and wanted to ensure that UWCM-funded organizations truly measured up to the high financial principles for which the United Way is known.
“I choose to be a part of the investment process because it helps me to understand that there is a process in place to analyze and invest wisely into the community as well as it gives me a platform to speak to others whom I have a trust level with the process in place. It is enjoyable seeing the organizations first hand with the site visits to see the impact.”
Facilitating Trust Through a Rigorous Investment Process
UWCM facilitates community trust by putting organizations that request funding through a rigorous investment process run by anonymous volunteer teams. Community members, business representatives and leaders from various United Way affinity groups volunteer on health, education and financial stability funding teams. Each of these groups must include at least one UWCM board representative.
The investment process begins after UWCM sends out a formal Request for Proposal (RFP). United Way of Central Minnesota publishes the request on the website, social media channels and in local newspapers. At this point, 501(3)(c) organizations may begin applying for funding opportunities.
After receiving proposals, the UWCM investment team reviews submitted applications. Upon initial assessment, applications that meet UWCM's minimum established criteria may receive a virtual or in-person site visit from the investment team for further discussion and so the team may have a better understanding of the written proposal.
During this visit, agencies under consideration must explain to the team that their work benefits the general public and serves a significant number of people in the local area. These nonprofits must demonstrate why they make a positive difference to people in Central Minnesota and how their agency solves regional problems.
They must show that they assist those with the most needs in our community: lower-income households and individuals who might qualify for a federal poverty level designation or fall into an ALICE category (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed); community members in need of support to achieve a healthy lifestyle; students who face educational barriers that prohibit them from achieving academic, social and emotional success. Agencies must show how they help our neighbors get the education, healthcare and financial resources needed to live a life they deserve.
The investment teams gain a deeper understanding of what an agency does by listening to their community impact stories and asking many, many questions. Volunteers must obtain a clearer picture of the nonprofit's financial standing, so the agencies need to provide information about administrative and operational expenses and how much of their funding request would pay for each. UWCM's funding criteria makes sure programs receive a significant percentage of requested funds instead of covering a large portion of administrative costs.
Agencies must prove they follow federal and state financial regulations, disclose all revenue streams and provide up-to-date financial audit reports. This information is required during the initial vetting process as well as throughout UWCM's entire granting period.
As virtual or in-person site visits conclude, the investment team must prioritize community needs and match agency solutions with available United Way funds. In the final phases of the investment process, volunteers make funding recommendations to the UWCM Board of Directors and the board finalizes which agencies receive United Way dollars. The investment team communicates those decisions with selected agencies.
Although the initial investment process is comprehensive, site visits continue even after an organization has received funding. Each UWCM-funded group must submit reports at 6-, 12-, 18- and 24-month intervals during each granting period. Agencies must also provide UWCM with updates and required financial reports at these points, ensuring they continue to comply with United Way's established fiscal standards.
Securing Transparency and Accountability
United Way’s integrity is built on foundational financial practices that require agency transparency and accountability. UWCM’s investment team volunteers are our financial stewards and their efforts in fund allocation processes empower the United Way’s ongoing success.
When Central Minnesota LIVES UNITED against the most daunting problems in our region, we mobilize our resources through strong relationships built on trust. Confidence. Peace of Mind.