Community impact

An important part of United Way of Southwest Minnesota’s work is the annual review of local not-for-profit programs that seek affiliation and grant funding from United Way. It’s an exciting process to be a part ofaffecting change in our community both now and into the future.

Volunteers involved in the process also find that this is an excellent way to learn more about the needs throughout our area. Dollars raised locally are re-invested back into communities served by the United Way of SW MN.

Our organization serves Lincoln, Lyon, Murray, Yellow Medicine, western Redwood and portions of Cottonwood, Nobles and Lac Qui Parle counties.

How does it all work you might ask? Teams of volunteers undergo orientation and are assigned to review a group of organizations providing services/programming by impact area. This year volunteers representing sixteen communities in our service area have been placed on seven different teams that will review thirty-five community impact grant applications. Funds that were raised during the recent annual United Way campaign are invested back into services that benefit people in the areas of Education, Income, Health, Hunger and Promoting Safety and Well-being. Volunteers work together to conduct site visits of applicants, review program goals and anticipated results and then make their recommendations to the United Way of Southwest Minnesota Board of Directors for final approval. Funding recommendations are purely community driven with United Way staff receiving no vote in the process.

This method is an assurance to donors of the annual campaign that each donation is used as wisely as possible, where it does the most good and that it makes a difference for the people of our area. Volunteers involved in the process represent the donors who have made a contribution to the United Way of SW MN and do their due diligence to invest the dollars back into our community wisely. This is an important way for our United Way to assure local community impact. Volunteers generally spend up to eight hours (usually in hour-long blocks) over five to six weeks of time from mid-April through the end of May conducting the reviews and preparing recommendations. Applicants are scored using a matrix evaluation during the process. Each applicant receives a copy of their evaluation from the panel that reviewed them during final notification of full, partial, or no funding. Many applicants report value in the feedback received for future planning.

Volunteer orientation was April 15 and applicant interviews are currently in process of being scheduled. Funding decisions will be announced June 17-20, 2014.

For more information on the work of the United Way of Southwest Minnesota or past grant recipients visit our website at or give us a call at 507-929-2273. Give. Advocate. Volunteer.