Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thanks for helping your neighbors facing emergencies

Even as the economy improves, many families are still struggling to meet their basic needs. Especially during the fall and winter, some families have to make a choice between eating and staying warm.

Because of your support, fewer have to face that choice. We’ve helped thousands of people with emergency needs including food, rent, utilities and prescriptions. That’s all thanks to generous gifts to our Community Relief Fund (CRF), and the work of our community partners.

When kids go to school with food in their stomachs, they learn more. When parents know their children have a safe place to sleep at night, they can support their family. And when older adults get the medicine they need, they stay healthy. Your support of the Community Relief Fund creates change in our community. Thank you!

Community Relief Fund Results

 As of October 2012, funds distributed to community action projects have helped 70,127 people in the four-county area (24,867 households). The average amount of assistance through the Community Relief Fund (CRF) with utilities was $245, while the average amount of rent assistance to each household was $727.
  • 1,176 people were able to stay healthy because they received assistance paying for prescriptions.
  • In total, 3,408 households (9,997 individuals) avoided eviction because they received rent or mortgage assistance.
  • Some 16,781 households (52,392 adults and kids) received food assistance.
  • About 1,372 families (4,159 individuals) kept the lights on because they received help paying their utility bills.

Why we fund basic needs

United Way’s Community Relief Fund provides basic, emergency assistance to families in need. We also fund projects that create long-term change in our community. Why do we invest in both types of projects?

Helping people with emergency needs is like a bandage on a child’s wound. It won’t prevent an injury in the future, but that bandage is so important, because in that moment, that’s what the child needs.

Equally important are medicines to help heal the child and safe behaviors that help the child stay healthy in the future. And perhaps someday the child will become an advocate to help her whole community become healthier.

In a nutshell—simplified, of course—that’s how United Way’s investment strategy works. We help people with their immediate needs, we give them support to change their lives and we provide ways for everyone to make a difference in their community.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Your top grant application questions – answered!

Financial review? Financial audit? What are those?

In this post, we’ll answer that and other top questions about applying for grant funding eligibility from United Way of the Columbia-Willamette.

First, a couple of quick reminders.
  • You must register for our online grant application portal by November 27 at 5pm.
  • You must submit your Request for Qualifications application by November 30 at 12pm.

Now, on to the questions.

Q: You say that in order to be eligible for United Way funding my organization must have an audited financial statement or financial review. What are these and why are they required?

A: We want to make it easy for organizations of all sizes to apply for United Way funding. At the same time, we have to ensure that donor dollars are being invested wisely. That’s why we require either a financial review or an audited financial statement, depending on your organization’s size. Both documents show that your organization will make good use of grant funding we might award.

Q: Which documents are required for my organization?

A: It depends on your annual operating budget.
  • If your organization’s annual operating budget is less than $500,000 per year, we require either a financial review OR an audited financial statement.
  • If your organization’s annual operating budget is $500,000 per year or more, we require an audited financial statement.

Q: So what exactly are these two types of financial documents?

A: An audited financial statement is also known as an audit. In an audit, an organization hires an independent, external accounting firm to inspect the organization’s accounts in detail. As an example, you can see our own audited financials from FY 2010-11.

A financial review also involves an independent accountant but it’s more limited than an audit. Rather than inspecting every detail of the organization’s accounts, the reviewer typically focuses on analytical procedures and financial management practices. Here’s an example of the overview page of a financial review.

In both cases, one thing that’s really important is that the auditor or reviewer has to be an independent, external CPA or accounting firm; it can’t be your internal bookkeeper. Also in both cases, the review or audit should be for your most recent fiscal year ending no earlier than June 30, 2011.

Q: My organization doesn’t have either of these documents and I don’t think we’ll be able to get them in time to apply for funding eligibility for this grant cycle. Is there any way I’ll still have an opportunity to apply for United Way funding?

A: If you are certain that your organization won’t have the required financial documents in time to apply for funding eligibility for the 2013-14 grant cycle, you can consider the option of Fiscal Sponsorship. You’ll work with an organization that does meet the financial requirements, a Fiscal Management Organization. If you think this might be a good option for you, contact our Community Investment team via email or call 503.226.9339.

Q: My organization applied for United Way funding eligibility last year. Do we need to re-apply this year?

A: Yes, you will have to re-submit your information to be eligible for this funding cycle. That’s because we want to make sure we have the most recent information for all organizations so we can consider everyone’s eligibility fairly. Specifically, your financial review or audit must be for a period ending no earlier than June 30, 2011.

Q: Where can I learn more?

A: Visit our website or watch this recording of our recent webinar.

Thanks for considering applying for funding eligibility from United Way! We look forward to hearing from you!