Why United Way’s Community Investment grants are critical to nonprofits

The Bingham Crisis Center is a Domestic and Sexual Violence program that provides free services to survivors and their children. These services range from Civil Protection Order assistance to Counseling and Emergency services such as food/clothing and shelter/hotel stays.

We have been a long-term partner of United Way Southeastern Idaho. Their partnership has been paramount in our ability to provide more services to our community and further our reach for donations. The grants and donor designated funds that we receive go directly into our work and services. These funds allow us to fill in the gaps that our other grants and funding streams have. We are able to utilize these funds in a fluid way, meaning we can fill in the cracks wherever and whenever we may have them. These funds often go to assisting clients with utility assistance, rental deposits, and transportation needs. Without the United Way funding, we would be unable to assist our clients as much as we do. This funding truly is important in our abilities to serve our community in ways that haven’t been done before. With the recent funding, we started a new program in our Center. We are piloting a new Self Defense training program. The funding allowed us to purchase the needed upfront equipment including a landing mat and BOB dummy. These will be available to us for many years to come, allowing the class participants to practice more life-like simulated punches without hurting themselves or others. As we are piloting this program, we have selected some of our clients and staff members to take this course. As we refine the course, we expect to incorporate more community partners to participate, such as teachers and other nonprofit organization members. Just by word of mouth, we have a long list of excited future participants that will be better equipped if the need arises and a larger potential donor pool as well.

The United Way of Southeastern Idaho grant process is one of my favorites. The grant process is straight forward and truly allowing our organization the ability to explain what we do and how we benefit the community. This could not be any more true than working with the Community Investment panelists. Each spring, I receive a phone call or email from the lead panelist asking to schedule a time to come see our organization for a tour. On the day of the tour, the panel members arrive and are able to ask any questions they may have had from the grant application or if they are unaware of what we do, I’m able to explain in more detail what our mission is and how we strive to uphold that within our community. Then comes my favorite part…the tour. I’m able to show the panel members all of the offices which allow us to meet with clients, how we accept donations and utilize those donations in our Community Closet. This Closet is open to all of the community members, not just our clients, and has needed items such as clothing, kitchenware, and bedding. This seems to be one of the favorite parts of the panel members based off of the smiles and questions that arise from our time spent in the Community Closet.

Part of our building has been remodeled with the upper two floors being renovated into our emergency shelter. The panel members again, appear to love this part of the tour as they see how their past dollars have assisted our organization and continue to provide resources to our growing community. We are able to share with them how many survivors can be housed in our shelter and express our desire to not only create a safe place, but to offer a comfortable, relaxing space that allows the client to rest and recover. I always enjoy having new panelists join us during our tour. Many panelists are not aware of what we do when they first enter into the Bingham Crisis Center, but are impressed with what we have grown into and how we provide the services we do.

I always enjoy an opportunity to speak to others about what we do and how we serve the community. The Community Investment grant and panel opportunity is among my most favorite occasion to share because they are already invested in the community and looking to further the resources available. As important as the funding is, and it is extremely important to our organization, the ability to have these panelists in our Center is more significant. They are able to learn about us in a more in depth, intimate way and become advocates for us for further funding and partnerships that we rely on throughout the year as they go about their normal daily routines and work. Often times, the 45 minutes allotted for our tour is not enough and I go over time and keep them longer than expected.

United Way of Southeastern Idaho has always been a pillar in our community. Each year I have several opportunities to work with their staff and volunteers. It is never wasted time or resources and more often than not comes back to us ten-fold in ways other than just funding. I am so grateful for the partnership and friends I have made while uniting with United Way.


Scott Smith DC, MS, is the Executive Director of the Bingham Crisis Center.