How to Become a United Way Funded Partner

The funding award process is one of the most important and challenging aspects of our organization. The struggling economy has created an increase in need and a decline in funds, forcing United Way to make some tough decisions. Over the past couple of years, we have made many adjustments to the application and funding process to create a system that extensively analyzes all of the grant applications. The new process has proved to be efficient and effective, while also providing the agencies with valuable feedback focusing on improvement areas. We guarantee that your dollars are making the greatest impact in our community. All applications will be through our Community Impact model.

Fully Participating Partner

A partner becomes “fully participating” through the formal proposal review process and recommended for program investment by a team of volunteers that make up the Community Impact Committee. 
The “fully participating” partnership is documented in a Partner Agreement and, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The partner is accountable through annual and mid-year reporting for the outcomes they have proposed or negotiated with the Community Impact Committee. For more information on becoming a fully participating partner, please call the office at 815-232-5184. 

Donor Designated Partner

Donor designated partners affiliate with United Way for the purposes of receiving donor-designated dollars only. These partners are reviewed by the United Way of Northwest Illinois Board of Directors to assure minimum criteria are met before a partnership is recommended.
A Donor Designated Partner will sign a Partner Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) before funds are distributed.
The following criteria have been established for the review of donor designation partners. A partner must:
1. Have a physical location in, and provide health or human services in Carroll, Stephenson, or Jo Daviess County. 
2. Be registered as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization in the State of Illinois.
3. Meet fundraising eligibility criteria for the State of Illinois for public sector affiliation.
4. Address an established need in Carroll, Stephenson, or Jo Daviess County.
5. Demonstrate the capacity to deliver services, including a clear mission and financial, programmatic and management stability.
6. Serve people regardless of their ability to pay for services provided.
7. If requested, provide documentation by an independent auditor that the agency’s financial status presents fairly the position of the agency. If concerns are expressed about the agency’s financial status, the agency must have written documentation of action either taken or planned to address those concerns. The United Way of Northwest Illinois Board of Directors has discretion in the application of this criterion.

The Application Process

The deadline for all proposal applications is in February. Applications completed after the deadline, will not be considered for funds. In April, panels of community members are convened to review all grant applications. To apply go to

The Grant Application

The online application is the agency's opportunity to give the Community Impact committee an inside look at their organization and can only be completed online. Applicants are asked to explain the program in detail and share the data that shows the program's financials, need in the community, as well as short term and long term goals, the strategic plan for the program and the method of evaluating outcomes. Outcome measures are extremely important to United Way's strategic goals. It is our responsibility to verify that the program is getting results and will continue to impact our community.


All grant applications are evaluated by a panel of community members. The applications are graded on a set of weighted criteria with the weighted criteria varying from year to year based on community need. Funding recommendations are decided based on the applicant's score. All recommendations are approved by the United Way of Northwest Illinois Board of Directors.