October 24, 2022
United Way of Whatcom County supports a network of local agencies providing life changing services to over 50,000 people every year. From access to basic needs like food and housing to vocational training, childcare, mental health services, and a variety of programs designed to increase economic mobility and break the cycle of poverty in our community, United Way impact grants create a comprehensive safety net to catch people who might otherwise fall through the cracks.
Our supporters are inspired by this work, and they trust us to invest their gifts in the most effective, efficient, and impactful way possible. This is a responsibility we deliver on with great care and pride.
When it comes to determining which nonprofits and programs receive United Way funding, we have several processes and tools in place to help us make informed decisions and ensure your dollars are stretched as far as they can possibly go.
Like everything United Way does, choosing who we partner with and what programs will receive United Way funding is an act of community.
Our process for determining where funds get invested begins with our Community Impact Panels. These panels are made up of dedicated community members who are deeply invested in the health and well-being of Whatcom County.
Community Impact Panel volunteers gather each year to review grant reports and funding requests, access community needs, and help make funding recommendations.
Each year, many local agencies apply for United Way grant funding. All of these organizations are doing important work in Whatcom County, which makes our decision-making process quite challenging. With so many great programs needing support, it can be difficult to decide who receives funding when there are only so many dollars to go around.
Our primary goal is to help individuals and families in Whatcom County achieve financial stability, and our process for determining where dollars go reflects this. When making tough funding decisions, we consider agency stability, population served, mission alignment, program results, and emerging community needs. During this process we also assess whether an organization provides services in one of our three focus areas of impact: providing for basic needs, improving economic mobility, and breaking cycles of poverty. These lenses act as a guide to help us determine which programs to fund.
Volunteers who have participated in our fund allocation process have an increased understanding of the many needs our funded agencies help meet, and a respect for all that goes into raising and distributing the dollars that are changing lives in our community every day. Both our volunteers and our donors appreciate that donations to United Way stay local and help fund so many crucial programs all at once.
One critical tool that helps us assess needs in our community is the ALICE research and reports. ALICE stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. This term describes households in our community with incomes above the federal poverty level, but below what it actually costs to live in Whatcom County.
The ALICE report provides local data on Whatcom County households that struggle financially and may need services. According to the 2018 ALICE report, 36% of households in Whatcom County struggle to make ends meet. This is frequently despite working one or more jobs. Often, individuals who need help in one area, like access to affordable food or housing, may need help in other areas as well. Data from ALICE allows us to see the tangible needs of our community and helps guide decisions about which agencies and programs are best suited to provide for those needs.
Financial stability means something different to everyone; the tools that benefit one family may not be what another family needs. Whether it’s access to heathy, affordable food, youth mental health services, job training, safe housing, or something else, the United Way safety net helps ensure that no one is left behind.
We’re so thankful for our donors, volunteers, businesses, and sponsors who show up and give so generously. We can’t do this work without the support and donations of good-hearted people and organizations in this community. And yes, that means you!
This year, we are proud to be giving over $700,000 to local agencies and programs that help meet basic needs, increase economic mobility, and break cycles of poverty in our communities! These impact grants are in addition to $25,000 for flood relief and $243,000 in continuing pandemic and emergency relief.
United Way impact grants help make sure critical programs and services are here for us when we need them, and they are changing lives for the better.