CATEGORY: Charities



By Eileen Bailey

Daily Journal

The United Way of Greater Lee County is now taking applications from agencies that wish to be served by the United Way and is looking for more volunteers to help screen those agencies.

Eddie Wright, fund distribution chairman for the local United Way, said agencies that wish to receive United Way funding have until April 15 to apply. There are several minimum requirements to be a United Way agency, including:

– The program must serve the people of Lee County.

– The applying agency must be a voluntary, not-for-profit, charitable organization, possessing tax-exempt status from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.

– The program must provide a health, welfare or social service and must promote the availability of its service within Lee County.

– The agency must be governed by a functioning board of directors that meets at least quarterly, acts more in an advisory capacity, represents the diverse elements of the community, and rotates periodically.

– There should be a definite budget, itemizing specific items of income and expense.

– Agencies should maintain records to ensure proper accounting of all receipts and expenditures and declare the information open for all concerned citizens.

Wright said there are other requirements that the United Way looks at in funding agencies, but these are the minimum an agency can have.

The $1,222,000 in donations raised during the 1995 campaign are being distributed to 30 agencies now.

Agencies chosen for the 1996-1997 year, which begins in October, will be funded after the next campaign. Agencies who receive funds are paid quarterly.

Melinda Tidwell, director of financial and fund distributions, said the United Way receives 37 to 38 requests for funding each year but some of those do not get funding because they do not meet requirements.

This year’s agencies that will receive funding will be announced in June.

To choose those agencies the United Way uses a cross section of about 50 volunteers from the community. Wright said they have almost met that goal but need more volunteers.

“We need to get as diverse a group as possible throughout the Lee County area,” Wright said.

Volunteers chosen will attend three days of training before they are divided into panels and begin looking at the agencies that applied for funding, he said.

The panels of volunteers will conduct on-site visits with applying agencies. According to Tidwell, this is the time for the agencies to show what their goals and services are. This on-site visit will be followed up with a visit at the United Way offices by the head of each agency and a board member for a one-hour question-and-answer session, she said.

After studying each agency the panels will make their recommendations to the United Way Fund Distribution Committee on May 30. Those recommendations will be presented to the United Way Board of Directors, who could make a decision by June.

Click video to hear audio