United Midcoast Charities (UMC) has announced a new strategic direction that emphasizes identifying needs and finding solutions in four focus areas addressed by local nonprofit organizations: food, housing, health & safety and economic security.

The new direction comes after an intensive two-year strategic planning process that involved UMC’s agency partners, community members, donors and others. Together, they addressed three essential questions: Is UMC needed? Is UMC’s mission still relevant? And is the organization structured to continue to serve the needs of our communities for the next 75-plus years?

The answers revealed that UMC plays an indispensable role in Midcoast Maine. Grantees stressed that UMC’s funding is essential for new programs, ongoing operations, and urgent, individual needs. Nonprofits in Knox and Waldo counties also said they regard UMC support as a de facto “seal of approval,” which by extension reinforces their own fundraising.

“We appreciate the inclusiveness of UMC’s strategic plan and the dedication to utilizing information from listening sessions to craft it,” said Sue diRosario, Support Services Director at MCH, Inc. (Meals on Wheels) in Rockland. “UMC’s focus on today and tomorrow’s needs of our communities will benefit area residents of all ages.”

UMC’s updated mission, succinctly stated as “Identifying needs. Supporting solutions,” embraces the organization’s original intent to support local nonprofits that address foundational needs, but with a practical approach to today’s realities: “United Midcoast Charities energizes Midcoast Maine nonprofits through finance and guidance, supporting a network of resources stronger than any single organization. UMC’s focus areas are food, housing, health & safety and economic security.”

UMC has established two strategic goals for the next three years:

  • Have a measurable impact on nonprofit agencies’ ability to achieve their goals in our focus areas by providing funding and facilitating increased collaboration.
  • Be a resource for modeling nonprofit best practices and to provide guidance in identifying the most effective solutions to addressing the needs of the community.

As part of its review, UMC’s board also decided that the organization needed to become more professional and responsive.

“UMC has operated as an all-volunteer organization since 1942,” said UMC President John Viehman.  “Anticipating our new strategic plan, our board established a full-time executive director position with part-time administrative staff support – the cost of which is supported by an endowment. Not only does this ensure sound management practices, it also enables UMC to grow its capacity for fundraising and develop new ways to assist the agencies we serve.”

“UMC is uniquely positioned to best leverage donations across our community,” noted Meredith Batley, Executive Director of Knox County Health Clinic. “Generous grants from UMC have been vital to our successful expansion of services over the past several years, enabling us to provide medical, dental and mental health care to hundreds of more uninsured local families. We applaud their new efforts to rally local nonprofits together to share knowledge and resources.”

As another key element of the strategic plan, UMC is adopting a new model of shared decision-making, establishing a Nonprofit Advisory Council made up of representatives from UMC’s grantee agencies across both counties. The council’s input will inform decisions on the grant-making process, community needs and more.

“Updating UMC’s mission and strategic plan is vitally important because it sets a relevant vision for the organization and helps keep us motivated about the positive impact we make in our communities,” said UMC’s new Executive Director Megan Williams. “We are focusing our efforts on listening to and serving the nonprofits that help our friends and neighbors every day. Their valuable feedback has allowed us to create an organization that will be a resource and a backbone for other nonprofits, supporting the solutions our communities need.”