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Community Investment Process

Community Investment 20/20

A clear vision for our community • Launching Fall 2020

Community Investment 2020 is a clear vision for our community, launching in the fall of 2020.


Our goal with Community Investment 2020 is simple – to increase impact in our community. We’ll do this by clearly aligning our funding of local non-profits with the needs of people in the 16 counties we serve in Missouri and Illinois.


This new approach will help your dollars go even further, so you can do what you love doing: help people live their best possible lives.




Through Community Investment 2020, United Way will continue our commitment to you – our donor – to steward your dollars in the most impactful way possible. We will:

• Always start with the needs of the community

• Align needs to funding and funding to outcomes

• Make agile, strategic, and effective funding decisions

How it's happening

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1. Understanding our community's needs

1. Understanding our community's needs

The first step of Community Investment 2020 is to gain a deeper understanding of the prevalent, critical and emerging issues local people face and the services and resources they need to succeed.

• United Way is currently conducting a comprehensive Community Needs Assessment to identify and prioritize needs across our 16-county region and within our five key impact areas.

• Leveraging existing data, community engagement, and qualitative and quantitative data, the Community Needs Assessment includes a public survey to learn about the residents of our region and their vision for the future.

• We’ve commissioned four institutions to collaborate on the Community Needs Assessment to ensure quality, credibility and accountability. These institutions are: Brown School Evaluation Center at Washington University in St. Louis; University of Missouri–St. Louis’ Community Innovation and Action Center; USI with InvestSTL, an initiative of the St. Louis Community Foundation, Community Builders Network of Metro St. Louis, and WePower; and Allie Chang Ray, Mutare Network. Each partner has a specific role in conducting and completing the Assessment.

2. Selecting local non-profits to support

2. Selecting local non-profits to support

With a greater understanding of the needs across our region, United Way can direct funding and support where it will help local people most.

• Aligned with the Community Needs Assessment results and funding priorities, United Way will conduct an online application process open to local non-profits.

• Utilizing trained staff and community volunteers, all applications will be reviewed and scored through a weighted formula that includes depth and breadth of services, outcomes and impact, alignment with community needs, and a diversity, equity and inclusion lens.

• Selected partners will begin receiving funding in 2021 through a three-year grant cycle, and annual funding will be dependent upon availability of unrestricted funds, agency performance and community need.

3. Monitoring partner outcomes and impact

3. Monitoring partner outcomes and impact

We are a steward of the community’s dollars, and we don’t take that lightly. United Way will continue to require monitoring and reporting of impact for non-profit partners to ensure quality and accountability.


Timeline of community investment process



Indicates milestone complete



  United Way Board of Directors convenes an ad hoc Community Investment Restructure committee of community volunteers and staff to review United Way’s current community investment process

  Ad hoc committee develops formal recommendations for shift in the community investment process



  United Way’s Board of Directors approves the new process

  Inform current member agencies through in-person informational sessions

  Continue informing and engaging member agencies and other stakeholders

Provide Member Agency Strategic Transition Planning Series (ongoing)

  Convene workgroup to develop Community Needs Assessment

  Release request for proposals to complete Community Needs Assessment

  Develop application, scoring rubric, and weighted formula



  Develop allocations volunteer structure and performance monitoring process

  Develop funding policies and contract template

  Select and design grants management platform



  Release Community Needs Assessment findings and community priorities

  Release and launch application process

  Recruit and train investment volunteers

  Review and score proposals

  Determine non-profit partners

  Non-profit partner contracts signed



  Award funding in first year of three-year contract

  Partner agency monitoring and reporting


Frequently Asked Questions

Why is United Way transitioning to a new model?

United Way believes we as a community can achieve strong outcomes through strategic investments. Community Investment 2020 is a clear vision for our community launching in the fall of 2020. This new investment process will clearly align donations with community needs and desired outcomes with the ultimate goal of delivering on our mission to help people live their best possible lives.

What is United Way’s current funding model and what is the difference?

United Way currently supports a network of more than 160 member agencies that, based on the available unrestricted funding raised during the campaign, receive an annual allocation of funds from United Way for general operating support. United Way staff and volunteers provide oversight and monitoring of these agencies to ensure outcomes and impact are achieved.


The current investment process is set on a legacy model, meaning once a non-profit was accepted as a member agency, they would infinitely receive funding from United Way. United Way has not been able to accept or fund any new member agencies since 2014.


Community Investment 2020 allows for an open and competitive application process for United Way funding based on a three-year grant cycle. This process allows for United Way to direct its support to non-profits and programs whose services align with the results of the Community Needs Assessment.


The funding through Community Investment 2020 will still provide local non-profits with general operating support, and staff and volunteers will still provide oversight and monitoring of all non-profits that receive United Way funds.

If I gave to United Way this year, who receives my support?

If you made or make a gift to United Way during the 2018 and 2019 annual campaigns, your dollars support our current 160+ member agencies. When you make a gift to United Way during the 2020 campaign, your dollars will support the agencies selected through the Community Investment 2020 process. You can read about Doshimae, Charlie and others to understand how your support of United Way uplifts local people and helps create a better region for all.

Who created this new process?

In 2017, United Way’s board of directors convened a committee to complete a months-long, volunteer-led process of reviewing and reimagining our funding structure. The committee consisted of 35 community volunteers, as well as key senior leaders and United Way staff.  Nearly 150 volunteers, including representatives from member agencies, United Way staff and other community and civic partners, serve on workgroups tasked with helping develop the key deliverables and implementation plan for Community Investment 2020.