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An important part of United Way of Southwest Minnesota’s work is the annual review of local programs that seek affiliation and grant funding from United Way. It’s an exciting and influential process to be a part of for United Way supporters…affecting change across southwest Minnesota both now and into the future. This is also an excellent way to learn more about the needs of local people. Dollars raised here are re-invested back into communities throughout our footprint. Our organization serves Lincoln, Lyon, Murray, Yellow Medicine, and portions of Cottonwood, Lac qui Parle, Nobles, and Redwood counties.

How does it all work you might ask? Volunteers work together in teams to conduct program interviews and look at applicant programs’ impact and goals, metrics and results, and financial management. These reviews result in recommendations for funding to the United Way of Southwest Minnesota board of directors. Funding recommendations are purely community driven with United Way staff receiving no vote in the process. Funds that were raised during the recent annual United Way campaign are invested in five key priority areas: health, education, financial stability, hunger and safety & well-being. Volunteers generally spend up to eight hours (usually in hour-long increments) over five to six weeks of time from mid-April through the end of May conducting the reviews and preparing recommendations. Applicants are scored using a matrix evaluation during the process. Each applicant receives a copy of their evaluation from the panel that reviewed them during final notification of full, partial, or no funding. Many applicants report value in the feedback received for future planning.

This method is an assurance to donors of the annual campaign that each donation is used as wisely as possible, where it does the most good and that it makes a difference for the people of our area. Volunteers involved in the process represent the donors who have made a contribution to the United Way of Southwest Minnesota and do due diligence to invest the dollars back into our community wisely. This is an important way for our United Way to assure local community impact.

Selection as a Community Investment volunteer will be competitive and limited in participation. Volunteer applications are due no later than April 2. All volunteers must complete mandatory training conducted by United Way staff if accepted as a volunteer. To apply please complete and submit the Community Impact Grant Review application on our website at or request one by emailing

Volunteer training will be April 17 at the Marshall-Lyon County Library and grant applicant reviews will take place April 18-May 25 at the convenience of each group. Panel recommendations will be presented to the UWSWMN Board on June 18 and funding decisions will be announced June 20-25.