Your Dollars at Work
When you make a donation to the Tulsa Area United Way, you join thousands of others like you who have chosen to pool their resources to have a greater impact on their community. It's a concept originally known as the Community Chest and has been around for more than a century.
Through the years, the process has evolved as the need in our community has increased, while placing a greater focus on accountability and efficiency. However, the precepts remain the same: all of us coming together to help our friends and neighbors.
Practically speaking, when you make a donation, whether through regular payroll deductions, workplace campaign fundraisers or a one-time gift, your contribution is deposited into an interest-bearing account. The annual Campaign officially begins in August, although donations are accepted year-round, and concludes each November.
Then, all contributions are distributed to our 60 partner agencies throughout the next calendar year.
However, the process of determining the annual Campaign goal and agency allocations begins in January. We call it the Community Investments Process, and we believe it is the most effective way to help community members in need.
Here's how it works.
Each January, approximately 180 highly qualified, pre-screened volunteers come together and form 19 panels. Panelists come from all walks of life and reflect the fabric of our community. Many panelists have several years of service under their belts, while others are new to the process, bringing a fresh perspective. A chairperson is assigned to each panel and the panels are divided into six divisions. Each division is led by a chairperson who is also a member of the Community Investments Cabinet.
Meanwhile, each partner agency completes a comprehensive application process for funding, which, if approved, will be received the following year. The applications are due in January.
Each of the 19 panels is assigned responsibility for assessing the funding requests of four to five agencies. 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.
The Community Investments Cabinet, taking into consideration funding recommendations submitted by each panel, develops an overall request for funding. That overall request is presented to the Campaign Cabinet, which, during this period, has been determining its funding prospects for the upcoming Campaign. The two Cabinets jointly arrive at a goal recommendation which is then presented to the Board of Directors for approval.
The campaign concludes in November and the following January, the Board of Directors approves the final allocation recommendations. Each agency is then notified of its allocation, which it will receive on a monthly basis the following year.
And then, the process is repeated. It's a process that works, ensuring that all donations are wisely invested, remain local, and are mobilized to help those who need it.
It's a way for you to feel sure that your investment will have the greatest impact on your community.