Sharing is caring - What it's like to be an allocations volunteer

After a year’s worth of fundraising, the United Way has the capacity to dole out hundreds of thousands of dollars in support between a number of applying human service organizations in Lethbridge and South Western Alberta.

But just who is it that decides which organizations will receive a share of the United Way’s Community Fund?

The Allocations Committee is a team of community volunteers responsible for reviewing each and every application the United Way receives and giving recommendations to the United Way Board of Directors about which organizations and programs to fund for that year. It’s not an easy task, but three-time committee volunteer Debra Brown says it’s been worth it.

“I felt it was one more way that United Way strives for the best possible understanding of the communities they serve and those who support their efforts,” she says.

The United Way tries to ensure it has a group of diverse volunteers from within the community, with different values to make sure funding is provided where it can do the most good for the greatest amount of people.

“These volunteers have an impact on what programs will be available at some of these agencies,” says United Way Executive Director Jeff McLarty, “so it’s important that the committee has broad representation from within the community to help identify what needs there are.”

The volunteers spend up to 20 hours over the months of April and May reviewing a number of applications and sometimes, visiting the applying agencies. With so much going on, some volunteers may have trouble making final recommendations to the Board. Brown says it’s important to stay unbiased and remember that the decisions the Allocations Committee makes have the power to affect people from all walks of life.

“Each organization has its own value and meaning,” she says. “Every organization that requests assistance has a program or event that in some way, shape or form impacts our citizens and community.”

McLarty reminds volunteers that their task is a vital part of building a strong, inclusive community and that each of the applying organizations contributes to the social foundation of South Western Alberta.

“It is important to remember that the piece of paper in your hand may represent everything from a homeless individual being fed and sheltered, to crucial tutoring and support for an at-risk teenager,” he says.

Learn more about the Allocations Committee and submit your application to join HERE.