Mission: For over 81 years, United Way of Southwest Louisiana has been committed to building strong, successful families and strengthening our community. When you join the team this year, you're supporting a powerful movement to rebuild and revitalize from the direct impacts of 5 federally declared natural disasters in 10 months. (Hurricanes Laura & Delta, Winter Storm Uri, Pandemic and now unprecedented flooding)

Corporate Cornerstone companies cover 94 - 96% of administrative and fundraising costs each year. They give directly to that purpose so no donor dollars are ever used on admin or fundraising. This is not taken into consideration when the rating is given here.

United Way of Southwest Louisiana is a 501(c)(3) organization, with an IRS ruling year of 1954, and donations are tax-deductible.

Is this your nonprofit? Access your Star Rating Portal to submit data and edit your profile.


Contact Information

  http://unitedwayswla.org/

 815 Ryan Street
Lake Charles LA 70601 

  888-433-1088


You are viewing this organization's new Charity Navigator profile page. To view the legacy version, click here.

Star Rating System by Charity Navigator


Charity Navigator evaluates a nonprofit organization’s financial health including measures of stability, efficiency and sustainability. We also track accountability and transparency policies to ensure the good governance and integrity of the organization.




Exceptional

This charity's score is 91.12, earning it a 4-Star rating. Donors can "Give with Confidence" to this charity. 

This score is calculated from two sub-scores:

This score represents Form 990 data from 2019, the latest year published by the IRS.

This organization has issued a response to this ratingView this organization’s historical ratings.


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Star Rated Report

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Program Expense

Program Expense Ratio

76.1%


The Program Expense Ratio is determined by Program Expenses divided by Total Expense (average of most recent three 990s).


This measure reflects the percent of its total expenses a charity spends on the programs and services it exists to deliver. Dividing a charity's average program expenses by its average total functional expenses yields this percentage. We calculate the charity's average expenses over its three most recent fiscal years.


Source: IRS Form 990

Administrative Expenses

10.3%


As reported by charities on their IRS Form 990, this measure reflects what percent of its total budget a charity spends on overhead, administrative staff and associated costs, and organizational meetings. Dividing a charity's average administrative expenses by its average total functional expenses yields this percentage. We calculate the charity's average expenses over its three most recent fiscal years.


Source: IRS Form 990

Fundraising Expenses

13.5%


This measure reflects what a charity spends to raise money. Fundraising expenses can include campaign printing, publicity, mailing, and staffing and costs incurred in soliciting donations, memberships, and grants. Dividing a charity's average fundraising expenses by its average total functional expenses yields this percentage. We calculate the charity's average expenses over its three most recent fiscal years.


Source: IRS Form 990

Liabilities to Assets Ratio

16.2%


The Liabilities to Assets Ratio is determined by Total Liabilities divided by Total Assets (most recent 990).


Part of our goal in rating the financial performance of charities is to help donors assess the financial capacity and sustainability of a charity. As do organizations in other sectors, charities must be mindful of their management of total liabilites in relation to their total assets. This ratio is an indicator of an organization’s solvency and or long term sustainability. Dividing a charity's total liabilities by its total assets yields this percentage.


Source: IRS Form 990

Fundraising Efficiency

$0.13


The amount spent to raise $1 in charitable contributions. To calculate a charity's fundraising efficiency, we divide its average fundraising expenses by the average total contributions it receives. We calculate the charity's average expenses and average contributions over its three most recent fiscal years.


Source: IRS Form 990

Working Capital Ratio

1.37 years


Determines how long a charity could sustain its level of spending using its net available assets, or working capital, as reported on its most recently filed Form 990. We include in a charity's working capital unrestricted and temporarily restricted net assets, and exclude permanently restricted net assets. Dividing these net available assets in the most recent year by a charity's average total expenses, yields the working capital ratio. We calculate the charity's average total expenses over its three most recent fiscal years.


Source: IRS Form 990

Program Expense Growth

4.41%


We compute the average annual growth of program expenses using the following formula: [(Yn/Y0)(1/n)]-1, where Y0 is a charity's program expenses in the first year of the interval analyzed, Yn is the charity's program expenses in the most recent year, and n is the interval of years passed between Y0 and Yn.


Source: IRS Form 990

Governance


Charity Navigator looks to confirm on the Form 990 that the organization has these governance practices in place.


Sources Include: IRS Form 990

Governance:
Independent Voting Board Members  ... (More)
No Material Diversion of Assets ... (More)

A diversion of assets – any unauthorized conversion or use of the organization's assets other than for the organization's authorized purposes, including but not limited to embezzlement or theft – can seriously call into question a charity's financial integrity. We check the charity's last two Forms 990 to see if the charity has reported any diversion of assets. If the charity does report a diversion, then we check to see if it complied with the Form 990 instructions by describing what happened and its corrective action. This metric will be assigned to one of the following categories:

  • Full Credit: There has been no diversion of assets within the last two years.

  • Partial Credit: There has been a diversion of assets within the last two years and the charity has used Schedule O on the Form 990 to explain: the nature of the diversion, the amount of money or property involved and the corrective action taken to address the matter. In this situation, we deduct 7 points from the charity's Accountability and Transparency score.
  • No Credit: There has been a diversion of assets within the last two years and the charity's explanation on Schedule O is either non-existent or not sufficient. In this case, we deduct 15 points from the charity's Accountability and Transparency score.
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Audited Financials Prepared by Independent Accountant ... (More)

Audited financial statements provide important information about financial accountability and accuracy. They should be prepared by an independent accountant with oversight from an audit committee. (It is not necessary that the audit committee be a separate committee. Often at smaller charities, it falls within the responsibilities of the finance committee or the executive committee.) The committee provides an important oversight layer between the management of the organization, which is responsible for the financial information reported, and the independent accountant, who reviews the financials and issues an opinion based on its findings. We check the charity's Form 990 reporting to see if it meets this criteria.

  • Full Credit: The charity's audited financials were prepared by an independent accountant with an audit oversight committee.

  • Partial Credit: The charity's audited financials were prepared by an independent accountant, but it did not have an audit oversight committee. In this case, we deduct 7 points from the charity's Accountability and Transparency score.
  • No Credit: The charity did not have its audited financials prepared by an independent accountant. In this case, we deduct 15 points from the charity's Accountability and Transparency score.
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Does Not Provide Loan(s) to or Receive Loan(s) From Related Parties ... (More)
Documents Board Meeting Minutes ... (More)
Distributes 990 to Board Before Filing ... (More)
Compensates Board ... (More)

Policies


Charity Navigator looks to confirm on the Form 990, or for some metrics on the charity's website, that the organization has these policies in place.


Sources Include: IRS Form 990 and organization's website

Policies:
Conflict of Interest  ... (More)
Whistleblower ... (More)
Records Retention and Destruction ... (More)
CEO Compensation Process ... (More)
Donor Privacy ... (More)

Donors have expressed extreme concern about the use of their personal information by charities and the desire to have this information kept confidential. The exchanging and sale of lists for telemarketing and the mass distribution of "junk mail," among other things, can be minimized if the charity assures the privacy of its donors. Privacy policies are assigned to one of the following categories:

  • Yes: This charity has a written donor privacy policy published on its website, which states unambiguously that (1) it will not share or sell a donor's personal information with anyone else, nor send donor mailings on behalf of other organizations or (2) it will only share or sell personal information once the donor has given the charity specific permission to do so.

  • Opt-out: The charity has a written privacy policy published on its website which enables donors to tell the charity to remove their names and contact information from lists the charity shares or sells. How a donor can have themselves removed from a list differs from one charity to the next, but any and all opt-out policies require donors to take specific action to protect their privacy.
  • No: This charity either does not have a written donor privacy policy in place to protect their contributors' personal information, or the existing policy does not meet our criteria.

The privacy policy must be specific to donor information. A general website policy which references "visitor" or "user" personal information will not suffice. A policy that refers to donor information collected on the website is also not sufficient as the policy must be comprehensive and applicable to both online and offline donors. The existence of a privacy policy of any type does not prohibit the charity itself from contacting the donor for informational, educational, or solicitation purposes.

(Less)

Transparency


Charity Navigator looks to confirm on the Form 990, or for some metrics on the charity's website, that the organization makes this information easily accessible.


Sources Include: IRS Form 990 and organization's website

Transparency:
CEO Salary Listed on 990 ... (More)
Board of Directors Listed on Website ... (More)
Key Staff Listed on Website ... (More)
Audited Financial Statements on Website ... (More)
Form 990 Available on Website ... (More)

Additional Information

Unscored

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Total Revenue and Expenses

Total Revenue and Expenses

This chart displays the trend of revenue and expenses over the past several years for this organization, as reported on their IRS Form 990.

Salary of Key Persons

Presented here are this organizations key compensated staff members as identified by our analysts. This compensation data includes salary, cash bonuses and expense accounts and is displayed exactly how it is reported to the IRS. The amounts do not include nontaxable benefits, deferred compensation, or other amounts not reported on W-2. In some cases, these amounts may include compensation from related organizations. Read the IRS policies for compensation reporting



Denise Durel, President, CEO

$142,081 (3.36% of Total Expenses)


Source: IRS Form 990 (page 7), filing year 2020

Business Master File Data

Below are some key data points from the Exempt Organization IRS Business Master File (BMF) for this organization. Learn more about the BMF on the IRS website


Activities:

Community Chest, United Way, etc. (BMF activity code: 600)

Fundraising (BMF activity code: 927)


Foundation Status:

Organization which receives a substantial part of its support from a governmental unit or the general public   170(b)(1)(A)(vi) (BMF foundation code: 15)


Affiliation:

Independent - the organization is an independent organization or an independent auxiliary (i.e., not affiliated with a National, Regional, or Geographic grouping of organizations). (BMF affiliation code: 3)

Data Sources: IRS Forms 990

The Form 990 is a document that nonprofit organizations file with the IRS annually. We leverage finance and accountability data from it to form Encompass ratings. Click here to view this organization's Forms 990 on the IRS website (if any are available).

Pandemic Response

Due to the unprecedented nature of the pandemic, we give charities such as this one the opportunity to share the story of COVID's impact on them. Charities may submit their own pandemic responses through their nonprofit portal.


United Way of Southwest Louisiana reported being impacted by COVID-19 in the following ways:
  • Program Delivery

  • Fundraising Capacity

  • Revenue

  • Staffing

  • Administrative Capacity

  • Grants Received

  • Grants Sent

  • Initiatives and partnerships enhanced


How COVID-19 impacted the organization's operations financially:

United Way of Southwest Louisiana had a decrease in campaign revenue, but an increase in fundraising for the pandemic, two hurricanes and a winter storm. The nonprofit ended the year with a record-breaking year after 81 years of service to the five-parish area.


How COVID-19 impacted the organization's delivery of programs:

United Way of Southwest Louisiana's team members worked through the pandemic and the two hurricanes to respond to a community where all other nonprofits were closed or destroyed. Over 766,460 individuals were served. The largest in the history of the 81 years in this five-parish area. Hot meals, grocery drive-throughs, grocery gift cards for laid off workers, rent and bill payments for workers laid off, front-line worker support and restaurant industry assistance were a few innovative programs opened.


How this organization adapted to changing conditions caused by COVID-19:

United Way of Southwest Louisiana was one of a small handful of nonprofits that kept doors open and programs operating at more than full capacity when the pandemic hit this coast five-parish area of Louisiana. This team considered itself essential just like cashiers, truck drivers and other front-line personnel.


Innovations the organization intends to continue permanently after the pandemic:

United Way of Southwest Louisiana will continue to be a hands-on in the community United Way. The response from individuals and families needing assistance at the worst point in their lives along with the positive messages from donors and corporate sponsors across the globe allowed this team to realize being out and visible in this community is the leadership everyone is looking for. This will continue.


Official Charity Response


United Way of Southwest Louisiana's Corporate Cornerstone companies donate directly to the administrative and fundraising costs of the organization. This covers 94-96% of those costs each year. No donor gifts are ever used to pay for fundraising costs or administrative expenses. This is not shown in our rating as we are unable to show it on our IRS form 990.

Historical Ratings

Date PublishedForm 990 FYEOverall ScoreOverall Rating
Rating Version: 2.1
7/1/20202019 91.12
12/1/20192018 90.98
5/1/20192018 90.73

This organization received multiple star ratings within this fiscal year, due to an update to it's Accountability and Transparency data and/or the receipt of an amended Form 990.

6/1/20182017 89.84
6/1/20172016 83.70
7/1/20162015 87.11
6/1/20162014 92.59
Rating Version: 2.0
10/1/20152014 91.37
11/1/20142013 85.31
11/1/20132012 74.30

...   Impact & Results


This score estimates the actual impact a nonprofit has on the lives of those it serves, and determines whether it is making good use of donor resources to achieve that impact.


Impact & Results Score

Not Currently Scored

United Way of Southwest Louisiana cannot currently be evaluated by our Encompass Rating Impact & Results methodology because either (A) it is eligible, but we have not yet received data; (B) we have not yet developed an algorithm to estimate its programmatic impact; (C) its programs are not direct services; or (D) it is not heavily reliant on contributions from individual donors.

Note: The absence of a score does not indicate a positive or negative assessment, it only indicates that we have not yet evaluated the organization.

Learn more about Impact & Results.

Do you work at United Way of Southwest Louisiana? Join the waitlist for an updated Impact & Results score.


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Additional Information

Unscored

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Largest Programs

Largest Programs



United Way of Southwest Louisiana reported its three largest programs on its FY 2020 Form 990 as:


$2,302,798

Spent in most recent FY

58%

Percent of program expenses


Allocation to United Way Agency Partners - United Way of Southwest Louisiana works closely with our agency partners to ensure that the generous donations we receive are carefully and thoughtfully put  ... (More)


$976,516

Spent in most recent FY

24%

Percent of program expenses


We track certain costs of managing, supporting, researching and funding all of these community programs. These costs include, but are not limited to, training, technology, marketing, accounting and go ... (More)


$671,970

Spent in most recent FY

17%

Percent of program expenses


Support of Community Initiatives - United Way of Southwest Louisiana is looking at the big picture - embracing the entire circle of life focusing on children and youth, families and neighborhoods, sen ... (More)


...   Leadership & Adaptability


This score provides an assessment of the organization's leadership capacity, strategic thinking and planning, and ability to innovate or respond to changes in constituent demand/need or other relevant social and economic conditions to achieve the organization's mission.


Leadership & Adaptability Score

100

out of 100

The score earned by United Way of Southwest Louisiana is a passing score.

Encompass Rating V4 provides an evaluation of the organization's Leadership & Adaptability through the nonprofit organization submitting a survey response directly to Charity Navigator.


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Leadership & Adaptability Report

100

of 100 points

Mission

The nonprofit organization presents evidence of strategic thinking through articulating the organization’s mission


For 81 years, United Way of Southwest Louisiana has been committed to building strong, successful families and strengthening our community.


Source: Nonprofit submitted responses

Vision

The nonprofit organization presents evidence of strategic thinking through articulating the organization’s vision.


To create long-lasting changes that prevent problems from happening in the first place.


Source: Nonprofit submitted responses

Strategic Goals

The nonprofit organization presents evidence of strategic thinking and goal setting through sharing their most important strategic goals.


Goal One: United Way of Southwest Louisiana’s goal is a 96% High School Graduation Rate where children enter school ready to learn and with the right materials.

Goal Type: New program(s) based on observed changes in needs among our constituencies/communities served.


Goal Two: United Way of Southwest Louisiana’s goal is an unemployment rate of 3.5% or less where individuals obtain good jobs and manage finances.

Goal Type: New program(s) based on observed changes in needs among our constituencies/communities served.


Goal Three: United Way of Southwest Louisiana’s goal is a 10% overall increase in health ranking where families have access to healthcare and improve their health

Goal Type: New program(s) based on observed changes in needs among our constituencies/communities served.


Source: Nonprofit submitted responses

Leadership Development

The nonprofit provides evidence of investment in leadership development


Describe an investment in leadership

United Way of Southwest Louisiana leaders Becky Ainsworth, director of resource development, Tami Chrisope, director of marketing and communications, and Laurie Martin, director of community investment were recently selected to complete an exclusive, year-long leadership training offered to only the top 2 percent of the global non-profit’s leaders. United Way Worldwide’s LEAD program is designed to provide learning and leadership development to nurture skills, networking and knowledge with dedicated support for career growth within the United Way Network. Denise Durel, United Way of Southwest Louisiana president and CEO, said it was quite unusual to have three leaders selected from the same local United Way. “It’s really an honor and indication that we’re doing something right in Southwest Louisiana. United Way Worldwide has recognized that our organization’s success is directly tied to the high caliber of leadership we have in each position and I am extremely proud.”

Source: Nonprofit submitted responses

Mobilizing for Mission

The nonprofit provides evidence of leadership through focusing externally and mobilizing resources for the mission.


This organization mobilizes for mission in the following ways:
  • Strategic Partnerships

  • Networks of Collective Impact Efforts

  • Thought Leadership

  • Raising Awareness

  • Community Building

  • Policy Advocacy

What are this organization’s external mobilizaton efforts?

United Way of Southwest Louisiana's experienced leaders are each capable of delivering guidance on a variety of subjects from the mobilization of hurricane preparation, response and recovery efforts to nonprofit guidance and capacity building. Each team member is educated and a leader in their respective fields along with the ability to run every aspect of a relief center following a natural disaster or deliver literacy kits to a headstart program and interact with children and teachers. United Way of Southwest Louisiana's team partnered with traditional and non-traditional groups to deliver support to over 766,000individuals in 2020 through drive-through grocery and food giveaways and reroofing homes in a five-parish area following two hurricanes.

Source: Nonprofit submitted responses

Story of Adaptability

The nonprofit has an opportunity to tell the story of how the organization adapted to tremendous external changes in the last year.


Before the direct hits from Hurricane Laura on August 27 and Hurricane Delta on October 9 devastated the community, United Way of Southwest Louisiana's (UWSWLA) pandemic response had served over 245,000 community members. Denise Durel, president and CEO, and her experienced team's quick response had allowed families to stay in their homes and keep food on their tables. Still, they all now shared in a new threat. 50% of SWLA lives in a tenuous month-to-month financial situation that makes preparation for hurricane season and even evacuation difficult or impossible. The team was busy filling buses with evacuees, answering calls and posting the latest news. By August 28th, they had the first relief supply center running. They were distributing donated diesel to fuel vehicles and generators. Their photography was the first many evacuees were seeing online. Their Hurricane Relief Center, under a tent in a church parking lot, served 378,114 hurricane victims before closing in November. They served Thanksgiving and Christmas meals by the thousands and gave out over 7,250 toys to children during the holiday season. UWSWLA is leading the charge to rebuild and recover with multiple avenues of attack. Community members use the 211 information line to request help with anything from debris removal, childcare or utility bills. The team coordinates incoming volunteer groups, giving them access to case-worked residents needing aid. A professional division of efforts ensures communication between all agencies. The most significant need is gutting of sheetrock, removing floors, debris from yards and hauling of trees. The other focus is assisting homeowners with FEMA Appeals. United Way volunteers help respond to an assortment of requests from the federal agency, easing many homeowners' anxiety, some without access to fax or email. This area has now endured 5 federally declared natural disasters in 10 months without a federal supplemental disaster aid package for the hurricanes.

Source: Nonprofit submitted responses

...   Culture & Community


This score provides an assessment of the organization's engagement with the constituents it serves, a practice we term Constituent Feedback. When organizations listen to constituents, they are able to better deliver on programs and meet the needs of stakeholders. A future version of this Beacon will also assess an organization's people operations and its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) metrics.


Culture & Community Score

100

out of 100

The score earned by United Way of Southwest Louisiana is a passing score.

Encompass Rating V4 provides an evaluation of an organization's Culture and Community by measuring its Constituent Feedback practices (see report below). Constituent Feedback data provides 100% of the basis for the initial evaluation of the Culture & Community Beacon.


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Culture & Community Report

100

of 100 points

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Constituent Feedback

Constituent Feedback

Full Credit


This organization reported that it is collecting feedback.


Here's how this organization is listening and learning from the people they serve:


How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Paper surveys, Case management notes, Constituent (client or resident, etc.) advisory committees, Suggestion box/email


How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve


With whom does your organization share the feedback you got from the people you serve?

The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners


What challenges does your organization face in collecting feedback from the people you serve?

It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, We don't have the right technology to collect and aggregate feedback efficiently, The people we serve tell us they find data collection burdensome, It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection, It is difficult to get honest feedback from our clients, It is difficult to identify actionable feedback


Briefly describe a recent change that your organization made in response to feedback from the people you serve.

United Way of Southwest Louisiana's initiative, The Path Home, came from feedback regarding our homeless population. We found a need for a family shelter when young males were being separated from their mothers when looking for shelter. We will open the first family shelter in Southwest Louisiana and each member of the family will get individualized help along a path toward their own home. United Way of Southwest Louisiana is located in the area that received direct hits from Hurricanes Laura and Delta in one season. A Hurricane Relief Center was organized and operated for months beginning the day after Laura hit. This center came about because community members reached out en masse and our team listened to their needs.



Methodology


Charity Navigator believes nonprofit organizations that engage in inclusive practices, such as collecting feedback from the people and communities they serve, may be more effective. We've partnered with GuideStar by Candid to survey organizations about their feedback practices. Nonprofit organizations can fill out the How We Listen section of their Candid profile to receive a rating.


Charity Navigator awards full credit for this Beacon to every nonprofit that is eligible for an Encompass Rating that completes the survey, in recognition of their willingness to publicly share this information with the nonprofit and philanthropic communities. This data is not evaluated for quality at this time. Validation will be added in future iterations of this Beacon.

Analysis and Research


Like the overall Encompass Rating System, the Culture & Community Beacon is designed to evolve as metrics are developed and ready for integration. Our partnership with Feedback Labs and Guidestar by Candid, and other partners including Fund for Shared Insight, GlobalGiving, and Keystone Accountability, enables us to launch the first version of this beacon with Constituent Feedback information collected on Candid's site.


Feedback practices have been shown to support better Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion outcomes, an essential area of assessment that we intend to further expand and develop in the future. Feedback Labs has documented several studies which indicate that beyond achieving organizational goals, nonprofits that are attentive and responsive to concerns and ideas raised by beneficiaries establish stronger relationships with the people they serve, promote greater equity, and empower constituents in ways that can help to ensure better long-term outcomes. You can find resources to help nonprofits improve their feedback practices here.

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