What is the main purpose of United Way of Lee County?
The United Way of Lee County is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization with a mission to improve the quality of life in Lee County. Spearheading an annual fundraising campaign in order to provide grants to local non-profit organizations in Lee County is the main program provided by your local United Way. There are many excellent human service organizations in Lee County. Most of them require public funding from the community in order to survive. Most also do not have the resources (human, time, financial) to run as many fundraising events as needed. The United Way of Lee County is an efficient, trusted, locally-monitored way to reduce the number of times you are asked to donate to these worthy causes. One time each year, the United Way asks you to make a helpful contribution that benefits all our agencies all year round. From 1958 to 2015, United Way of Lee County distributed more than $12,600,000 to local non-profit organizations. Of that total, $5.6 million has been distributed in the last 15 years.
How are your agencies approved for United Way funding?
Any 501 (c) (3) agency serving Lee County is eligible to apply for partner agency funding status. All agencies seeking funding must submit an annual application to the United Way. Each funding application includes key details about their mission, programs, demographics of Lee County served and their financial budget. Once applications are submitted, the board of directors and campaign volunteers are divided into allocation teams and visit with each agency. After the visits, the allocation team captains fill out an evaluation form with the group and a funding recommendation is then proposed to the full board during the following board meeting.
How is your goal determined?
The Finance Committee assists the Executive Director with the annual administrative and operating budget of the organization. Including in this calculation is the total funding the agencies applied for, uncollectible pledges from previous years and an estimate of uncollectible pledges for the current year. After the total is calculated, the board then takes current economic conditions nationally and specifically in Lee County into account, along with other factors such as the previous year pledges received and the local job market.
What are your overhead costs?
We strive to maximize our efficiency so that your donated dollars go directly to the programs and people who need it. The office is provided rent free by Midland States Bank, advertising locally in print and radio is donated in-kind and utilities such as water or electricity are paid for by the bank. The organization currently has one employee whom receives compensation and retirement benefits through a Simple IRA. Many local companies also provide discounts for program supplies, materials and event costs.
Why do you keep asking for more money each year?
Inflation. Most of our agencies are fortunate to have abundant, inflation-free volunteer help. But increasing prices for supplies and services affect non-profit agencies, too.
Increasing Needs. Besides inflated costs, many of our agencies have inflating client lists. The growing problems of drug abuse, single-parent households, senior care, and troubled families are creating more people in need of our agencies’ services.
New Agencies. Our United Way annually receives funding requests from new agencies. The UWLC board occasionally approves these requests when they believe that our donors will support that agency.
We work hard to be frugal and maximize every dollar given to United Way. We appreciate your support at whatever level you’re able to give.
I’ve heard that a large percentage of United Way contributions leave the area. Is that true?
No. It’s not true. As a member of the United Way network, one percent of our campaign pledges is submitted to United Way Worldwide for use of their logo, as well as providing a listserve for all United Ways to network with, providing training and informational webinars and seminars and being a member of UWW, allows are small United Way the chance to receive resources from larger corporations whom partner with national, which we otherwise would not receive.
When you contribute to the United Way of Lee County, you can feel confident and proud that your locally-earned dollars are staying here, helping local people through local programs.
I work in Lee County, but I live just outside the county. Can I designate my United Way donation to go to the United Way in my town/county?
Yes, you may. The UWLC respectfully honors those designations.
I live in Lee County, but work outside the county. Can I designate my donation through my employer campaign to go to United Way of Lee County?
Yes, most other United Ways honor those designations. However, it is always best to check with your employer before assuming that your designations to Lee County will be honored.