The Investment/Allocation Process

Deciding where donations will have the highest impact is no easy task — but we think no one knows what a community needs better than the members themselves. For over a century, United Way of Greater Cleveland has entrusted the proposal review process to a team of community volunteers. These volunteers are organized into Impact Teams and make the hard decisions regarding which programs they believe should receive funding, as well as the level of funding.

These funding recommendations are based on community need, other available resources in the area and a program’s ability to deliver quality services in an effective manner. Ultimately, the selected programs are the ones that the Impact Teams believe can provide the greatest level of support to the members of our community living in poverty.

  • The Community Assessment
  • The Community Hub for Basic Needs
  • The Impact Institute

To be able to serve our community, we need to understand its needs. So, we went right to the source.

Last year, United Way of Greater Cleveland worked with over 1,500 community leaders, service providers and donors to examine Cleveland’s greatest issues, trends and opportunities. This extensive community assessment included focus groups, interviews, surveys and data collection — all to determine how we can best help our community and particularly those struggling with poverty-related issues.

Thanks to this information, United Way can make even more targeted, deliberate, impactful funding decisions, ensuring that support is going to the most-needed areas.

The Community Hub for Basic Needs is part of United Way of Greater Cleveland’s new approach to combatting poverty. The Community Hub consists of United Way-funded organizations that address the immediate, here-and-now needs of our community, such as hunger, addiction, homelessness or violence, among others. This funding is made possible through generous donations made through annual giving and workplace campaigns.

The Community Hub brings these organizations together with community partners and volunteers to share best practices, build relationships and align resources to better identify and subsequently meet the immediate, basic needs of people in our community living in or on the edge of poverty.

Put simply: United Way is connecting the human-service organizations in our community so that we can better work together to offer improved assistance to our community members living in poverty.

The second prong of United Way of Greater Cleveland’s new approach to combatting poverty is Impact Institute. Impact Institute is a think tank with an action plan: A plan to identify and grow solutions to root causes of poverty.

Funded through major gifts, Impact Institute aims to figure out where additional work is needed in the community, and then support programs and projects that will fill the gaps. As opposed to just addressing the symptoms of poverty, these large-scale initiatives offer solutions to systemic problems, with the hopes of eliminating them in the future.

Impact Institute wants to create, and more importantly, implement, new ways to better approach the root causes of poverty.