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United Way, Community Foundation to combine office space

May 08, 2007

Two nonprofit organizations in Washington County collaborated in February to bring a one-stop philanthropy center to downtown Hagerstown. The United Way of Washington County and the Community Foundation of Washington County are now housed in the same office space at 33 W. Franklin St., Suite 203.

While wanting to remain separate organizations, both boards saw the value in combining office space to be good stewards of the public's money and create an operating synergy that will benefit the Washington County community at large. The organizations will share a reception area, kitchen area, and large board and multipurpose room.

Both organizations had a desire to be downtown because it is the decision-making center of the county, and both organizations want to be involved in that process.

"We are thrilled to be collaborating in this manner and being good stewards of our donor's dollars," said Dale Bannon, executive director of the United Way.

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According to Brad Sell, executive director of the Community Foundation, "We look for collaboration of agencies during our own granting process, so it only makes sense for us to practice what we preach."

Both partners have already seen positive synergy in being so closely related.

With similar goals of improving lives in Washington County, the United Way and the Community Foundation use different approaches to donors and the nonprofit community. Both have a vital role in the community.

The United Way raises funds for health and human service programs, offered by their partner agencies to help them with their current year operating expenses-a community checking account.

The Community Foundation encourages private donors to create endowment funds for area nonprofits. These funds protect the principal and generate income for the nonprofit community for future operating needs or capital expansion - a community savings account. Ultimately, thousands of citizens are served annually through nonprofit organizations which benefit from both of these entities.

In the last fiscal year, United Way dispersed $1.4 million through restricted and unrestricted gifts to the annual campaign, and the Community Foundation distributed $1.55 million to 104 different organizations from its various restricted and unrestricted funds.

The organizations also take different approaches to fundraising that lend to the one-stop shop for donors. The United Way emphasizes giving through discretionary income, especially workplace giving through payroll deductions. The Community Foundation's emphasis is on planned giving and using appreciated assets such as stocks or property. Both organizations offer the maximum tax advantages allowed by law.

In addition to the shared office space, the organizations are looking to collaborate in other areas, such as the annual community needs assessment.

"Instead of the separate assessments we have done in the past, we will combine efforts, technology and databases to perform one comprehensive assessment this summer," said Bannon.

"Plus our Board of Directors are combining working sessions to try to understand community problems and seek solutions," Sell added.

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