A Brief History of United Midcoast Charities
United Camden Charities Inc. was founded in August of 1942 by summer residents who wanted to contribute to the community and support organizations serving Camden people. This group, along with Camden residents serving on the organization’s Board of Directors, raised money and selected worthy organizations in need of funding.
United Camden Charities’ Certificate of Organization described the organization’s original mission: “… to assist in maintaining charitable organizations within the Town of Camden, virtually, if not actually, dependent on public support, by solicitation of contributors, accepting gifts and donations and by such other means as may conduce to the accomplishment of this purpose.”
The first year, $4,375 was distributed to Camden District Nursing Association, Camden Community Hospital, the Boy Scouts, Camden Red Cross Workroom, the YMCA and the Public Beach.
In 1943, the organization established an endowment of $1,000 to pay for its necessary expenses, ensuring that all donor contributions would be distributed directly to charitable organizations.
The ensuing years brought two name changes: In 1949, to United Camden-Rockport Charities and in 1995, to United Mid-Coast Charities (UMCC) to reflect our expanded service area throughout Knox and Waldo counties. Today, we are known as United Midcoast Charities (UMC).
In 2015, the UMC Board began an intensive two-year assessment of the organization and its service to the Midcoast community. UMC’s first-ever strategic plan made 2017 a year of growth and progress. One key outcome of the strategic plan was the implementation of a new model of shared decision-making. Reflecting this new model, UMC’s Nonprofit Advisory Council was established. The Council is made up of representatives from UMC’s grantee agencies across Knox and Waldo counties. The council’s input informs UMC’s decisions on its grant-making process, community needs and more.
Another outcome of the strategic planning process included the establishment of UMC’s first-ever full-time executive director position in 2017. The executive director, along with staff support, ensures sound management practices and enables UMC to grow our capacity for fundraising and develop new services for the agencies we serve.
We have four primary sources of funds for our grantmaking:
- Individuals: Contributions can be made via mail or online to the general fund, the endowment or designated to specific focus areas.
- Workplace Giving: MSECCA (Maine State Employers Combined Charitable Appeal), CCAUE (Combined Charitable Appeal for University Employees), and Fisher Engineering are significant contributors. We are seeking to partner with additional public and private sector employers and their employees. Workplace giving through payroll deduction is an easy way to ensure your donations stay in Knox and Waldo counties and make a big impact.
- Matching Funds: Some corporations match employee donations.
- Foundations: Family or private foundations also contribute to UMC.
We have a formal process for granting funds: Agencies apply directly to UMC for funding. UMC Directors then interview applicants and provide evaluations to the Grants Committee. Each year, a dozen or so applicants are selected to present additional information to the Committee and the Board of Directors. The Grants Committee makes a final recommendation for distributing funds using the evaluations, UMC’s Criteria for Eligibility and current funding priorities as guides. The entire Board votes on the final awards. UMC Directors participate in this process to ensure that our grants go where they are most needed and will have the most impact.
Since 2017, we have awarded grants totaling $1.5 million to 30-50 local agencies.