Wichita Falls, Texas: North Texas Area United Way reaffirmed its commitment to graduate more kids, lift families and individuals to financial stability and create a healthier community when its board of directors approved funding to continue implementation of its Community Impact Agenda.  United Way will invest more than $2.6 million in more than 25 education, financial stability and health programs.

Over 50 community volunteers, making up the United Way Community Impact Council and subcommittees, met over the past several months reviewing applications for funding and had very healthy conversations about what the greatest needs were in our community and how to address them.

“We’re committed to creating meaningful change in North Texas,” said United Way President and CEO Matt Yell.  “One way we help drive change is by investing in the best local education, financial stability and health programs to impact our community’s kids and their families.”

In education, United Way is investing $220,000 to support programs to prepare our kids for kindergarten and help them achieve and maintain grade-level reading with the ultimate goal of graduating on schedule.  United Way is investing in programs provided by the following agencies:  Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Club of Wichita Falls, Child Care, Inc., Communities in Schools, Helen Farabee MHMR Centers, Iowa Park RAC (Recreational Activities Center), Southside Youth Senter, Teen Court, YMCA, and Zavala.  

Through financial stability programs, United Way is investing $53,269 to help individuals and families achieve and maintain financial stability.  The goal is to help our community earn it, keep it and save it.  The agency programs chosen to invest in are: Catholic Charities, Wichita Adult Literacy Council, and Habitat for Humanity.

And in health, United Way is investing $79,347 to support programs helping our community members to start and remain living healthy lives, with an emphasis this year on combating mental illness and on seniors remaining independent.  Agency programs include: NAMI Wichita Falls (National Alliance on Mental Illness), The Kitchen, Senior Citizens Center of Burkburnett, and the Wichita Adult Literacy Council.

In addition, United Way has received over $2.2 million in state and federal grants to further advance our community impact investments.

United Way will also distribute $76,463 in donor-directed funds to local nonprofit organizations through the SECC and CFC campaigns in 2017.   

Times Record News Editorial: Are there too many nonprofits?

Are there too many nonprofits?


The frequent criticism from the nonprofit community that there are “too many nonprofits” has become so common in recent years that it’s become something of a cliché within our sector. And like many clichés, this one has a deceivingly simplistic appeal, combined with a degree of truth.  But before we accept this as the truth, let’s dig a bit further to look at the standard basis for these claims and see how they hold up to even modest scrutiny.

One standard rationale I’ve read about is that the vast growth of 501(c)(3)s has resulted in inefficiencies.  GuideStar’s database currently has information on more than 2.2 million nonprofits in the U.S.; more than 1.8 million are considered active organizations.  In Texas, we boast of having almost 68,000 tax-exempt charities.  Last year I ran across an article stating Texas has a nonprofit for every 406 people.  Although it’s true that the nonprofit sector has grown by more than 40 percent since the mid-90’s, it is a logical myth to conclude that these larger numbers equates to decreased overall efficiency or effectiveness.  I am not aware of any study that has been conducted to establish or even suggest that nonprofits are less efficient now – individually or collectively – than they were when there were fewer of them.

The next rationale I have heard for claiming there are too many nonprofits is that with so many nonprofits doing the same or similar work, the limited resources available are spread too thin.  I believe there is some validity to this claim.  Marla Felcher, founder of Cambridge-based Philanthropy Connection, has a similar view.  “One thing I see over and over again is duplication of effort — so many small organizations that are doing the same work or very similar work,” Felcher said. “People say, ‘Oh, my nonprofit is different than that one,’ but if you’re on the outside, you don’t see the difference.  “How can I say this so I don’t insult anybody?” she added. “I think some of our smaller organizations would be best served by working more closely with or becoming part of a larger, better-established organization.”

In the polite world of philanthropy, a reluctance to hurt feelings or offend funders often hinders discussion of the issue.  I have heard several leaders throughout our state urge those with the funds, and therefore the power, be more courageous in their decision-making. Bringing more courage – and rigor – to the funding process would mean that only the most relevant, sustainable, well-led organizations would survive and thrive.  On the other hand, some might argue that there is a place for some of these new and small nonprofits, serving extremely narrow or localized niche issues that no one else is dealing with.  Many who argue for proactively shrinking the number of nonprofits fail to appreciate the societal benefits generated by the sector’s diversity. Audrey Alvarado, former executive director of the National Council of Nonprofit Organizations, put it this way: “I’m thinking here of all the things [nonprofits] do to build social capital and strengthen civil society – then I’m not sure that efficiency is the metric we should be focusing on. In fact, I’ve argued that, given the lack of civic engagement in this country, we don’t have enough nonprofits. I don’t doubt that there will be, and probably needs to be, some pruning in the sector, whether through mergers or groups simply shutting their doors. But if we’re willing to sacrifice some nonprofits for the overall good of the sector, we also must be willing to redouble our efforts to strengthen the capacity of the nonprofits that remain.”

The last rationale I want to discuss is with so many applications to evaluate, it’s difficult for funders to make well-informed decisions.  I would dare to guess that most funders would prefer to see fewer nonprofits because it would make their lives easier.  But there are many ways to address what is essentially a technical administrative issue other than advocating for a reduction in the number of nonprofits. Potential strategies include more collaboration and consolidations among funders, longer-term grants and grants to networks of nonprofits, to name just a few.  I have always been an advocate of urging the nonprofit community to be more active in pursuing systematic collaborations.

As you can tell, there is not a clear or easy answer to the question. The reasoning behind the complaints of “too many nonprofits” becomes clear if one asks, “So if there are too many nonprofits, what’s the ‘right’ number and how do you know it’s right?” Could you answer that question? Could anyone?

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Fatherhood Fall Festival Event

Fatherhood Fall Festival

On Thursday October 27th, Dad’s Workshop put together a Fatherhood Fall Festival.  This festival was free to all families that participate in the Dad’s Workshop, PAT, NFP, and HIPPY programs.  Families engaged in group activities that included painting pumpkins, candy walk, pumpkin bean bag toss, bounce house, and storytelling by our very own CEO Matt Yell! The evening ended with a yummy dinner of sub sandwiches and chips.  Families were thanked for coming and each received a book that they can share with an information sheet included that explained the importance of reading.

Principal For A Day

Principle for a Day - Written by Haylee Davis

Yesterday I had the privilege of being Principal For A Day through the Wichita Falls ISD. I was approached a couple weeks ago about the opportunity and immediately wanted to say yes. I love working with kids, specifically young kids. You can imagine my surprise when I received my confirmation email letting me know I would be principal with Ms. Christy Nash at Wichita Falls High School. For some reason, it had never crossed my mind I had the potential of being placed in a high school.

With hesitancy, I showed up yesterday morning to WFHS. Students were rushing to claim their parking spots and hurry in the building before the first bell rang. I followed suite and scurried in through the large entryway. With nerves jittering, I walked in to the principal’s office. Everyone was so welcoming and excited to have me. I sat waiting on Ms. Nash to finish up her morning tasks, wondering what my first duty as principal would be. Ms. Nash came in with another staff member and introduced herself. She was very nice and friendly as well. As soon as we met, two students came in to interview her for a class assignment. She asked them to wait a few minutes and had me follow her into the hall. Our very first task of the day was walking a sweet girl to her classroom.  Ms. Nash informed me that this student cannot walk to class at the same time as the rest of the student body so she gladly takes her after the first bell each morning. As we walked, Ms. Nash asked her how her family was and about her Halloween plans and costume. When we returned to the office I sat in as Ms. Nash answered all the interview questions from the two students, smiling and joking with them throughout the process. As they were leaving she asked one of the boys about basketball, encouraging him to play again this year. After the boys left, we went on a grand tour of the campus. Ms. Nash took me to several classrooms, introducing me to many of her staff and students. Every person we came across was happy to see Ms. Nash and she was happy to see them. She called almost every student by name and knew about their individual lives. We came across one student in the hall who was having a bad morning. Ms. Nash immediately stopped and sat down on the floor next to the student. She had a genuine care for the student wanting to make sure she was okay before we went on. The teachers had the same care for the students as Ms. Nash. All the teachers were also very passionate about their fields of study. In each of the classrooms we visited, teachers were engaging the students, creating environments to make learning fun. None of the classrooms we walked by had teachers sitting behind a desk. As the lunch hour drew near, I was sad I would not be coming back for the afternoon.

When I was assigned a high school, I was honestly a little disappointed because I did not think there would be any type of interaction between the principal and the students. I was so happy to find the exact opposite at WFHS. Ms. Nash sets a great tone for the whole campus by being engaged with both the staff and students. At United Way, much of our work is focused in education. We believe education is one of the most important aspects of a successful life. Yesterday I had the opportunity to see education at its finest. I am so grateful I was placed with Ms. Nash at Wichita Falls High School so I could witness all the amazing things they are doing. They are offering quality education, but more than that, they are creating an environment where students want to learn. 

Philanthropy Gives Birth to Optimism - Times Record News Article

This article was featured in the Times Record News and written by Matt Yell, CEO. 

Many of those I come into contact with are stressed and disheartened by recent events, news and trends. Challenges such as terrorism, a stalled economy, anti-patriotism, moral decline, crime, violence and more are producing a tremendous amount of hopelessness and paralysis. In addition, the overall pervasiveness of news about the presidential election and the strident partisanship and dysfunction of our government have resulted in less civility and compassion. I find myself wondering if we, as a country, will pull together to solve the many challenges and problems faced by our community, country and world.

In such times, I suggest we consider philanthropy and giving back to our community. Philanthropy is defined as the practice of giving money and time to help make life better for other people. Philanthropy is inherently optimistic, reflecting the belief that we can have a positive impact on the lives of others as well as on stubborn societal issues. In reality, philanthropy will not and cannot solve every problem. However, I see or hear about charitable acts daily that empower so many individuals and families and that gives me hope.

While headlines often focus on what's wrong, in many ways the world is getting better. Health is improving. Poverty is shrinking. Knowledge is growing. There is so much need in our communities. but we are making progress.

To find workable solutions for our communities' most challenging problems, we must include the best thinking for all perspectives. We at United Way cannot do this alone. We must engage and listen to the entire community — nonprofits, businesses, educational institutions, government, the health sector, faith-based organizations and individual residents — in the work of solving community problems. Our partners must be diverse and we all must be part of the solution. Serious challenges like hunger, education, transportation, mental health and workforce readiness can only be approached through philanthropy with a shared commitment to finding solutions.

"Philanthropy transcends time, borders and politics," said Patrick M. Rooney, associate dean for academic affairs and research at the Indiana University Lily Family School of Philanthropy. "Philanthropy is a core American value and will remain one regardless of political or business cycles."

As our nation and communities seem more divided than ever, I am reminded of words by James Grubman. "Families can find community in pointing fingers not at each other but toward the horizon, eyes on the shared goals deserving of their attention and resources. Philanthropy is best when we reject going toe-to-toe in favor of standing shoulder-to-shoulder, helping our world. It should not be about defending your preferred tactic. It should be about where you want to go — together."

In these divisive times, philanthropy offers hope for the future as well as an opportunity for people who have political and philosophical differences to work together to successfully address pressing community problems.

"It's the action, not the fruit of the action, that's important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there'll be any fruit. But that doesn't mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result," Mahatma Gandhi said.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Request for Proposals - 2017-19 Grant Cycle

Dear Community Partners:

North Texas Area United Way (NTAUW) is pleased to announce the release of its Request for Proposals (RFP) for the 2017-19 grant cycle. The NTAUW 2017-19 RFP, Program Budget Excel sheet, and the Community Impact Agenda that explains our mission, priority areas for funding and our strategies can be downloaded and viewed on our website by clicking here. Please review carefully and share with others whom you think might be interested.

NTUAW is committed to advancing education, income and health in our community. Together with community partners, we support collaborative and comprehensive approaches to solving problems so that individuals, families and communities thrive. We invite you to continue to work together to bring about lasting results.

Thank you,
North Texas Area United Way