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UW Volunteers Embraced Online Application and Meetings for Funding Reviews

Each year, Sioux Empire United Way reviews funding applications from more than 80 different programs. Each application includes information about the program details, number of people served, long-term outcomes, and budget.

This year, even before COVID-19 required area organizations to re-think how they operate, the application process started a significant overhaul, moving from paper applications to an online system.

"This year's decision to move allocations to an online process, utilizing an application called e-CImpact, proved to be extremely beneficial as COVID-19 threw a huge curve into our review process," said Jeff Strand, Chair of the Community Impact Division.

Agencies submitted their applications through the online portal in January, with a streamlined application process made possible through the transition.

"It's helpful to store our agency-wide information where it can be updated from year to year," said Kathy Bangasser, Grants Officer for Lutheran Social Services. "We appreciate the time savings for both our agency and the United Way by avoiding processing large quantities of paper."

With COVID-19 entering our community just as volunteer meetings were to begin, the typical process of holding in-person review meetings also had to be adjusted. The six volunteer teams that review funding needs of like programs, moved their meetings online through video calls. Agency and program staff provided information as needed, further utilizing the online application portal.

"After just one agency review happening face-to-face, COVID-19 caused us to change to virtual meetings. Between the virtual meetings and e-CImpact, volunteers were able to complete allocation program reviews with amazing efficiency," said Jeff. "I am not sure this could have happened had we not switched to the online application."

Sioux Empire United Way volunteers have recently completed their application and funding review process, in preparation for 2021. Final funding decisions will be finalized through our Board of Directors later this summer.