Today is Wednesday. Well, for me, today is Wednesday. For readers of this column, today is Saturday. More specifically, today is the first day after the first night of allocations meetings and one day before the second day of allocations meetings. Confused yet?
Allocations are a time of year for United Ways everywhere, much like spring or summer. More simply, it’s the “season” of year we bring about 40 local people together to decide where to allocate or designate all the funds we’ve raised over the past six months or more. For us, United Way of Wilson County and the Upper Cumberland, it’s far more hectic and stressful than usual because this is the first year we are including the newly acquired Upper Cumberland service area.
By now you know that, if you’ve read this column with any regularity, we keep the funds raised devoted to the areas they are raised in. In other words, if you give money in Wilson County, your money stays in Wilson County unless you want it to go to a specific area of your choosing.
What this meant for us is expanded opportunity to help others; expanded challenges and a whole lot more paper work. Still, we are thrilled for the expansion and we love the chance to learn more not only about other areas, but to also have the opportunity to meet and learn from other organizations and people helping our local residents live better lives.
During our first allocations panel meeting, local volunteers met with five agencies representing new programs applying for the first time for funding. Four of those programs will work to help people in the new service area. In Wilson County, one new program was represented seeking funding along with five long-standing programs which have received funding from UWUC for well more than a decade.
Of course, our allocations volunteers already did their homework. Every program seeking funding from UWUC must be visited by an allocation volunteer, as did this year’s applicants. Along with this, applicants were pre-screened in areas of how they impact our communities as well as how they operate financially. This is a process, which is unique to United Way and one of which we’re proud.
Very few programs will get 100 percent of what they seek simply because we need to raise a lot more money to reach that goal. However, in the nonprofit world, every dollar counts and every dollar goes to helping someone, or several thousand “some ones” you may know.
Speaking for UWUC’s staff and board members, we enjoy working with our volunteers, learning with them and watching their reactions to the great work our partner programs perform. Hearing from recipients about changes to their lives or learning how one program or another allowed a senior to live independently, gave a parent with a disabled child a reason to hope for a better future among other heart-warming testimonials, make the challenges of hosting our allocations meetings by far the most rewarding season of the year for all of us at UWUC.
John McMillin is president of United Way of Wilson County and the Upper Cumberland. Email him at [email protected].