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How We Fund Our Agencies: The Citizen Review Process

The CRC Process

The Citizen Review Committee (CRC), which is composed of 21 community volunteers, decides how much money we allocate to different community programs. Our diverse group of volunteers read through the grant applications, interviews the programs asking for United Way funds, and listens to presentations from the programs requesting United Way funds. The volunteers then rate the programs based on their goals and how well they have historically achieved their goals. Based on the grant applications, interviews, applications, and ratings, the CRC distributes the money raised during the annual fundraising campaign amongst the various programs. The CRC has a difficult job because more funds are usually requested than are available.

Our goal is to make sure the money is used effectively to help people in our community. We support agencies that are working to improve what we consider to be the building blocks of a good life: a quality education that leads to a stable job, income that can support a family into retirement, and good health. Serving on the CRC awakens people to the needs in our community.





Message from CRC Member, Mitchell Irlmeier

The United Way of Clinton County Iowa presents many opportunities for the citizens of the community to make an impact, whether it be through giving, advocating, or volunteering. One of those volunteering opportunities is the Citizen Review Committee (CRC). The ultimate goal of the CRC is to review all of the program applications and submit a recommendation to the Board of Trustees for how to allocate the campaign contributions.

The committee is comprised of community volunteers that serve on one of the three panels that represent the impact areas of United Way - Health and Wellness, Education, and Financial Stability. Each panel member will serve as liaison to a specific program that submitted an application. This consists of reviewing the program narrative and budget information in-depth, making a visit to the agency to further that learning process, and writing up a summary report to share with the rest of the members on the panel. But the process doesn’t end there…

Each agency that submitted an application for funding will also give a scheduled presentation to all of the members of the appropriate panel. It is then up to the panel to rate the programs based on key criteria - Community Need, Financial Need, Program Results, and United Way Participation & Collaboration from the program. All of the members scored ratings are put together and that is the basis for determining how the funds should be allocated.

The final step is for the three panels to sit together as the whole CRC and evaluate what each panel recommended for funding. I must say, this is the difficult part. Every program does a phenomenal job of putting together applications and presentations, but the reality of the situation is that there is always more requested than what is available. And this is why the rating system is important, because we ultimately decide to allocate funds where they are needed the most and will provide the most value to the community.

This is my second year serving on the CRC, and it truly has been a great experience. The whole process has awakened me to some of the pressing needs in the community. But it has also proven how powerful we can be when we band together and commit to making a difference. We win together when we LIVE UNITED.


Mitchell Irlmeier

CRC Volunteer





Message from CRC Member, Kayla Martens

When I was first asked to be a part of the United Way of Clinton County, Iowa (UWCCI) Citizens Review Committee (CRC), I was very hesitant.  But, after looking at the big picture, I knew it would be a great way to contribute to our community.

Going into my first training meeting for United Way, I had no idea what to expect and what would be expected of me.  During the spring training meeting the board tells you exactly who and what United Way of Clinton County, Iowa does. They are individuals, and representatives from businesses, nonprofit organizations, and governments in Clinton County, working together to achieve measureable results in health/wellness, education, and financial stability - the three key areas essential to a good life.  After reading UWCCI’s formal mission statement - To IDENTIFY our most pressing human care NEEDS, and WORK TOGETHER to IMPROVE our community’s quality of LIFE - I knew volunteering for the CRC was a great opportunity to learn more about Clinton County.

I was chosen to be a Liaison for the Financial Stability Team. I met with two different not-for-profit organizations who are requesting funds from UWCCI. My assignment was to see how much they were requesting from United Way of Clinton County, Iowa, and if I believed the program was in need of UWCCI’s help and funding.  Each organization I met with impressed me with how much they do for the community and the amount of hard work it takes to run their programs. 

After meeting with each organization, each liaison writes a report for the other liaisons to review.  Each organization then meets with the Citizens Review Committee to present their program and formally request funds.  Funds are distributed after the board reviews the Citizens Review Committee’s input as to who should receive funding.  It’s not an easy process to decide who gets what funds, because each program is great for the community.

The first year being on the Citizens Review Committee for United Way has been a very humbling experience, and I have realized how much each separate program helps our community in different ways.  My hope from the United Way of Clinton County, Iowa funds distributed is that the community will only become stronger and more successful than the year before. I’m excited to be a representative for First Central State Bank and look forward to my time on the Citizens Review Committee for the next two years.

Kayla Martens

CRC Volunteer





Message from CRC Chair, Cheryl Frey



You may ask---How are the funds that our businesses and individuals donate to the United Way of Clinton County, Iowa (UWCCI) each year distributed among the many agencies?

The Citizens Review Committee (CRC) is a 21-member panel of dedicated volunteers who are involved in the process step-by-step, who then ultimately convey recommendations to the UWCCI Board of Trustees for review and final decision.

After the annual campaign ends, the CRC members begin reviewing the grant applications from agencies who are requesting funding. These applications contains program, budget, and management information. The average number of applications received each year has been thirty-one.

Each CRC member is assigned to one of the impact areas based on their area of expertise. The three impact areas are EDUCATION, FINANCIAL STABILITY, AND HEALTH/WELLNESS.

Within these areas, members are assigned one or two programs to conduct a one-on-one visit to the requesting agencies (referred to as a Liaison Visit). They provide a short report to other panel members on the program.

A representative from each organization then gives a short presentation to panel members assigned to the impact area within which they provide services. There are approximately seven members in each of the impact panels.

Following the presentations, all CRC members meet to decide on a funding level for each program to recommend to the Board of Trustees. We are particularly interested in if they do what they say they will do (results) and build upon those results each year.

The recommendations are then presented to the UWCCI Executive Committee and then on to the Board for approval.

As you can see, a lot of time and thought goes into the distribution of your CLINTON COUNTY UNITED WAY DONATION.

Thank you to all who give of their time and money to the UNITED WAY.

Thanks to the staff who put in many hours for the organizations and United Way of Clinton County, Iowa.

If you need more information or would like to donate time or funding, call the United Way of Clinton County, Iowa office at (563-242-1209).

Cheryl Frey

United Way Co -Chair of CRC





Message from CRC Co-Chair, Paul Schnack



I am writing this article as the chairperson of one of the Citizens Review panels for the United Way of Clinton County, Iowa (UWCCI). 

There are 3 panels that comprise the Citizens Review Committee. The panels of Health/Wellness, Education and Financial Stability have the responsibility to make a proposal to the Board of Directors on how to allocate the funds that have been raised by the citizens of Clinton County for the United Way of Clinton County, Iowa.  Representatives from the agencies, which provide services in Clinton County, make presentations to the panel s on for their financial needs from United Way. 

Some of the reasons that are given for needing United Way funding are: the State of Iowa has reduced the funding that the agencies have received in the past; the need in Clinton County has become greater; and general overhead has increased.  These agencies provide a hand-up to the individuals that are in need of assistance instead of a hand-out.  The agencies are working on making these individuals better citizens for the communities that they are from be better stewards of their income, healthier citizens, or preventing the summer slide for the school children that are being helped by OUR UNITED WAY donations.

I have served on this panel for the last several years and have been the chairperson the last couple, it still amazes me the number of agencies that are funded by the United Way of Clinton County, Iowa, and the number of agencies that are represented in our communities here in the county.  From the DeWitt Referral Center to the YWCA, they all do a great job for the people that they serve, and they are also great volunteers in the communities where they work.

There is still time for you to make a financial commitment to the United Way of Clinton County, Iowa and help the agencies and citizens of the county to a better life and better county.  Thank you very much for your support throughout the years.

Paul Schnack

Chairperson Health Panel of the Citizens Review Committee





Message from CRC Member, Christie Collins

United Way of Clinton County, Iowa (UWCCI) is a tremendous resource for our area. The organization focuses on improving all aspects of life in the area for those that need it and works with the partner agencies that are already in place to distribute resources in an efficient manner. As with any nonprofit charitable organization, the continuation of its services requires the participation of many volunteers and contributors, as well as a vetting process to determine how funds are distributed. This year, I had the opportunity to serve on the Citizen's Review Committee (CRC), which is just one piece of the process for determining how funds are distributed throughout the community.

Organizations that would like to receive UWCCI funding must initially fill out an application that requires they meet certain criteria. Once that has been completed, they are divided into three separate divisions - education, health and wellness, and financial stability. The CRC is also broken down into the same three divisions, allowing the members of each panel to focus on one area of community impact. 

The due diligence process begins with a member of the CRC doing a site visit to each of the organizations. The member asks questions about the programs that will be funded, looks into past successes of the program, and ensures that funds are being used for their intended purposes. CRC members then prepare a report with their findings, and each member of the panel is requested to review all reports for their division. With reports in hand, each panel of the CRC meets and reviews each report, listens to a presentation by a member from the organization requesting funding, and all committee members have the opportunity to ask questions. As the CRC, we each give a ranking based on the following criteria: community need, financial need, results of the program, and their involvement with United Way of Clinton County, Iowa. Finally, after that process has been completed and all CRC scoring is final, the UWCCI board reviews all scoring and reports to distribute funds in an appropriate manner across all three panels, keeping in mind the total funding received.

Most community members know a little bit about United Way as a national organization, but they don't know how the local process works and all of the effort these funded organizations put in to be able to receive funding. The process is intentionally thorough in order to provide the best use of the donations received and to ensure that community members will be able to continue feeling that their United Way dollars are being put to good use. After experiencing this process first hand, I learned not only how important the vetting process is, but also saw how all of the organizations in the community are working together to help those using these services get to the right place. Knowing that, not only has each organization been reviewed in so many layers, but through their initiative to provide people with the proper resources, will have a lasting impact on our community for years to come.

Christie Collins

CRC Volunteer