Questions and open dialogue are key in the funding process

Making a charitable gift is a big decision. You want to do something good with your investment and to know it is being used efficiently and effectively. You want to make a difference in the lives of others. Sioux Empire United Way’s Community Impact volunteers review and recommend funding decisions for more than 40 agencies. Volunteers get to ask the questions you often wish you could ask when making a charitable gift. Questions like: how are needs changing in the community, what will the funds be used for, what additional services could be provided, what is the long-term impact of the investment?

Sioux Empire United Way funds more than 80 local non-profit programs. Funding applications are grouped into six different teams based on the types of services the program provides. Most funding applications are reviewed by community volunteers in detail every two years. Community Impact teams spend countless hours reviewing applications and assessing information about community needs, the services provided, the number of people served, the impact on the lives being served, and the financial need of the program/organization.

The community volunteers come from a wide variety of personal and professional backgrounds, which helps bring a unique mix of thought and perspective to the impact team. Volunteers can review funding requests for up to eight years, allowing them to understand an impact area's needs in the community, to know the programs that are available to meet those needs, and to become well-versed in that area.

"When I first got involved with United Way, I really didn't understand the depth of the need in our community, which means I also didn't understand the depth of care and generosity that our community has to reach those in need. It is inspiring to see the difference that our funded organizations, volunteers, and donors make to the Sioux Empire," said Angie Hillestad, Community Impact Division Volunteer Chair.

Community Impact Teams include:

  • At-Risk Individuals & Families – includes transitional housing, crisis assistance, and opportunities to achieve self-sufficiency
  • At-Risk Youth and Youth Outreach – includes housing, dental care, mentoring services, and development activities 
  • Child Care & Children and Youth Education – includes childcare services, early childhood education, and academic services for refugee and immigrants
  • Disabilities & Seniors – includes services to help older adults and those with disabilities maintain independence and improve their quality of life
  • Mental Health & Individuals and Families in Crisis – includes counseling services and crisis care for children, adults, and families in need 
  • Out of School Time Care – includes after school and summer care programs

To learn more about how your gift is helping children, vulnerable adults, and people in crisis visit