United Way

In light of the recent shake-up regarding the way United Way of Rome and Floyd County is choosing to fund local nonprofits, the organization’s executive director, Alli Mitchell, recently submitted a press release further explaining the changes.

The decision to fund only locally-governed 501(c)3 agencies for the 2020-21 budget cycle had met with some push back recently from at least two of the five national nonprofits that are being excluded from the Impact Grant application process after years of being funded by United Way.

Salvation Army and American Red Cross of Northwest Georgia leaders both said last week they were taken by surprise when they learned they would not be funded next year, along with the Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and Mercy Care.

But Mitchell said they had made no guarantees of funding when they had first announced organizations would be asked to submit Requests for Proposals under new guidelines calling for measurable impacts.

“Transparency and integrity are absolutely our highest priorities,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell’s latest press release explained that for the past 65 years, nonprofits in Floyd County have benefited from the traditional “umbrella-style” fundraising organization that had automatically allocated funds simply by going by the 2-4% of the nonprofit’s overall budget.

Salvation Army, for example, had received about $25,000 per year from United Way without fail for more than 60 years through workplace giving campaigns that usually raised about $385,000 each year.

Going forward, however, Mitchell said the new funding structure focuses on specific programs proposed by local nonprofits that fit together collaboratively.

“The model supports the idea that nonprofits and communities are stronger when they are United in their efforts to address social challenges,” Mitchell said in her release. “It also makes clear the relationship with nonprofit partners by identifying exactly what programs and work United Way donor dollars support. This allows donors to understand how their support is helping their community and helps avoid confusion that the United Way is funding the full mission of its partners, a flaw of the traditional model that could potentially create unintended conflict.”

She goes on to clarify that investment in specific programs that are accountable to clear, publicly accessible measurable outcomes means United Way donors and the Rome/Floyd community will get community impact reports every six months on the work accomplished through grant funding.

“These reports include measures like the number of children who improved math grades, the number of families that established or grew savings, and the number of individuals who received emergency assistance or obtained safe housing,” she went on.

As part of the new grant process, a team of community volunteers is currently evaluating applications for proposed programs from eight “completely local” nonprofits: Boys and Girls Club, Summit Quest, Open Door Home, LivingProof Recovery, Rome-Floyd YMCA, Family Resource Center, Hospitality House and Davies Shelter.

Mitchell added United Way is working to create an online local resource guide, partnering to build an online local volunteer connection site for those seeking volunteer opportunities and “ramping up advocacy efforts to promote diversity and inclusion and fight trafficking and human slavery.”

“The United Way is excited to transition into a more relevant, responsive, community-minded organization that truly serves all in Rome & Floyd County,” Mitchell said. “The organization’s decisions have been made with compassion, appropriate gravity and with hope for and eyes toward a bright future and better lives for all in Rome & Floyd County.”

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