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John McMillin: Close-to-home agencies have a lot to offer

John McMillin • Updated Jul 1, 2018 at 9:00 AM

Many things have changed in the past 20 years, however, making a gift to United Way of Wilson County and the Upper Cumberland is one of the most effective ways to help our whole community in one stroke of the pen or keyboard. 

United Way attacks poverty’s root causes through measurable goals and works with partners to provide solutions that are interconnected, so that people most in need have the best chance of success.

United Way understands that some donors choose to direct a portion of their gift to a specific agency, which is outside of our partner organizations. Although we process these donor-directed contributions as a service to our donors, United Way is unable to guarantee how designated funds to a specific, non-partner, agency will be used or ensure measurable results by the recipient agency.

Any agency receiving designations must be a 501(c)(3) organization and must comply with the United States Patriot Act by submitting the proper documentation to United Way. Should you wish to make a designation to a specific, non-partner organization, the following is required:

• Confirm that the agency you wish to donate to is a legally recognized 501(c)(3), nonprofit organization by visiting Guidestar, or contact your designated agency.

• Specify the designation amount.

• Provide complete agency information, including the name, street address, city and state to ensure that your designated gift goes to the right agency – many have similar names.

• Submit designation information at the time of the pledge.

Why am I telling you this now? We feel this information is important to our donors whether they designate or not. Also, we will wrap up our process of decision making concerning where undesignated funds will go next week, so this information is fresh on our minds.

For us, the allocations process is somewhat bittersweet, because we have seen a drastic rise in designations to non-partner agencies. We are privileged to work with an amazing group of partners, along with several internal programs, which we know work for the betterment of our communities. In conducting annual reviews of the partners, we learn of the incredible work they do here at home with our neighbors, friends and family. For that reason, we love undesignated funds, which allow our community volunteer reviewers and auditors to decide where extra funds could be used to best serve our hometowns.

We are thankful for every dollar. We are also mindful that consumer choice is a large component of giving in today’s nonprofit world. UWWUC hopes that, with continued effort and information, many of our donors will take a closer look at our United Way and our partners, along with the wonderful work being done in our service area.  Remember, unless you choose to designate elsewhere, if you give in Wilson County to United Way, your money stays in Wilson County.

John McMillin is president of United Way of Wilson County and the Upper Cumberland. Email him at john@givetouwwc.org.

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