This is a guest post from a Program Investment Volunteer who evaluated programs in the Immediate Relief of Basic Needs strategy in the Basic Needs focus area. You can see all strategies in Basic Needs by clicking here.
My name is Ed, and I have been a Community Investment volunteer with Capital Area United Way since September 2015. My real journey with CAUW actually began over 20 years ago, when I was a solicitor of my fellow employees during campaign time. I kept hearing the same thing over and over from them– that people did not feel comfortable with or have a good understanding of the funds distribution process. I wanted to be able to tell them about this process, so I became a Community Investment Volunteer.
Volunteering afforded me the opportunity to get an inside view of the process in the hopes that I could provide some influence to the community, but also explain how it works to the people whom I planned to solicit in the future. I didn’t quite understand at first that I would be intimately involved in the process with a significant role to play in determining how the funds were going to be dispersed.
I had the opportunity to evaluate the strategy, Relief of Basis Needs, in the Basic Needs focus area. The top things that stood out for me during this process were the following:
That the process allowed any organization in the community to apply for funding and receive impartial evaluation of established performance and their application. This part of the process opened the door to groups that would have had very little hope of receiving funding under the original process.
The staff of the CAUW allowed the process to proceed as designed, providing valuable guidance and information without attempting to unduly influence the final decisions of the volunteers.
The volunteers were highly committed to allocating the funds to organizations that provide the greatest impact to the community’s needs.
You may ask, how is the community is better off because of the volunteers’ work in this process?
The community is better if the money that is donated is funneled to groups that are providing the greatest impact in the community so that they will be able to expand their work. The volunteers have spent considerable time visiting and evaluating the organizations’ ability to effectively deliver their service, efficiently utilize the funds and to demonstrate/document the impact on the community. The United Way has created a process that makes the distribution of funds transparently objective and put the responsibility for the decisions on the volunteers. We took this responsibility as representatives with exceptional passion. It is my hope that many of our volunteers return next year to once again lend their expertise and that other members of our community can join us to make this process even better.
If you would like to join Ed as a volunteer, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.