Middlesex United Way: Learn where donated dollars go

I have been working with the United Way for almost three decades, and it has taken me nearly that long to understand all of the intricacies involved in the organization.

I often answer a lot of questions about United Way when I am out in the community, and wanted to take the opportunity to share some of that information with those who are unsure of what Middlesex United Way is all about.

Whether it’s questions about where the funds are spent or who is deciding where they are spent, I’d love to take some time today to answer a few frequently asked questions.

What is Middlesex United Way?

Middlesex United Way is a locally based, volunteer-driven nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening lives, helping people, and improving community conditions in the 15 towns in Middlesex County. By cultivating leadership and partnerships, bringing resources together, and investing in our community, Middlesex United Way acts as a catalyst to achieve measurable, positive impact in education, income, health and housing.

How is United Way tackling community problems?

Middlesex United Way assembles teams of volunteers, including town officials, concerned residents, service providers, community leaders, and experts to focus on chronic community problems that present ongoing challenges for our residents. Their recommendations shape our work and inform our funding priorities.

To tackle these problems effectively, we have to address the root causes and invest in long-term solutions that can improve community conditions and prevent problems from happening in the first place. That means investing in prevention-based programs that serve a larger population than those identified as needing assistance.

Where do fundraising dollars go?

Your gift to Middlesex United Way stays in Middlesex County, unless you designate it elsewhere. United Way dollars are targeted to meet critical community needs in the county not funded by other sources and invest in long-term solutions to community problems.

Middlesex United Way supports 38 of the most capable local organizations. Last year, our nonprofit partners used our funding to obtain $844,301 in additional funds. This means that every dollar given last year doubled in return, leading to greater impact. Additionally, over the past 24 years, Middlesex United Way has disbursed more than $20 million to local partners in Middlesex County.

Who decides how to spend dollars raised?

Volunteers make all United Way funding decisions. Each year, all services, programs and town-based projects currently funded by United Way are reviewed by volunteers, who are experienced in analyzing budgets, program efficiency and effectiveness. Organizations that are seeking funds present written proposals to United Way and the volunteer teams. Funding decisions are based on dollars available, community need and on the ability of the applicant to meet that need.

What is Middlesex United Way’s relationship to other United Ways?

Each local United Way is an independent 501(c)(3), separately incorporated and governed by a local, volunteer board of directors.

How can I learn more?

It is important to do your research before making a decision to donate, advocate, or volunteer to any nonprofit, including Middlesex United Way. Middlesex United Way is committed to transparency and accountability, and you can view our financial information on our website at middlesexunitedway.org/accountability.

I hope I’ve answered some of your questions today. Feel free to check out other FAQ at middlesexunitedway.org/FAQ.

Kevin Wilhelm is president and CEO of Middlesex United Way in Middletown.