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United Way focuses on quality, not quantity

November 30, 1997

United Way focuses on quality, not quantity

By MARLO BARNHART

Staff Writer

Armed with a $30,000 corporate grant, the United Way of Washington County has implemented a result-oriented change in the way things are done.

"We are moving away from just numbers to what changes the agencies have made in people's lives," said June Stouffer, United Way agency relations coordinator.

The United Way, which raises funds annually in the community and then distributes money to its 25 member agencies, historically has based funding allocation on numbers of people served, Stouffer said.

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But soon, the bulk of those allocated funds - 60 to 65 percent - will depend on results, not just numbers.

And the outcome funding initiative facilitates that by assigning volunteers to work with agency personnel - with a goal of fine-tuning operations to make sure United Way money is spent most efficiently.

"We don't want to be perpetually enabling people in these agencies,'' Stouffer said.

The local United Way was approached by a businessman who told of a similar project in another community, Stouffer said.

"We couldn't do it out of our operating budget so we approached the corporate sponsors,'' she said.

The program was thus funded with $20,000 from the Citicorp Foundation and $10,000 from Allegheny Power.

That money was used to fund a prototype of the outcome funding initiative last year under the direction of the Rensselaerville Institute consulting firm, Stouffer said.

Initially, 10 member agencies developed performance target outlines that defined program milestones for their clients, Stouffer said.

Already this year, 19 agencies have submitted performance target outlines.

Volunteers have been trained in the new process and over the next year, they will meet with member agency staff personnel to refine the procedure.

Current plans call for full implementation of the result-based funding in the 1999 United Way distribution cycle, Stouffer said.

"We will take into account that agencies and their goals and time frames vary,'' Stouffer said.

The money was a start-up need, she said. Now that the process is in effect, volunteers will do the implementing, Stouffer said.

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