A merger to form one regional organization between the United Way of Greater Houston and the Montgomery County United Way officially took effect March 1.
Following a vote by the MCUW board of trustees in early February, a two-thirds majority of donors also approved the merger during an annual member meeting Feb. 24.
“For us, this was the way to most assure we grow on the great work that’s been done here before,” MCUW board Chairwoman Christi Thoms-Knox said. “We think there is a lot of upside potential to what we can do in Montgomery County and the surrounding counties we serve. Not merging would have meant a lot of cuts to programs and nonprofits in this area that are doing great work.”
Talks of a potential merger between the two United Way organizations began about a year ago in response to requests from multiple corporate donors, Thoms-Knox said.
“[The donors] were wanting to hit the easy button,” she said. “They had campuses where employees came from all parts of the city—as far south as Clear Lake and Sugar Land and up this way—so they had employees living all over the city and dealing with numerous United Ways in some cases.”
Not fully understanding the impetus of the donor piece of the puzzle at the time, the MCUW decided to remain independent initially, Thoms-Knox said. However, last fall the potential merger came up again as a way to feed more dollars locally into the community.
“We think we found a way to best put together the two organizations into one that provides a dedication to the Montgomery County United Way and to continue the funding of impact programs and services here in the county,” Thoms-Knox said.
Although the headquarters for the United Way of Greater Houston is inside the city of Houston, the existing United Way facility in The Woodlands will remain operational. It will serve as a hub for fundraising, community impact work and volunteer programs. Additionally, all MCUW board members at the time of the merger were invited to serve on a United Way of Greater Houston regional council, which will have several responsibilities.
“The greatest of which is deciding where the dollars go in this area,” Thoms-Knox said. “The regional council will have several committees reporting up to it—education, health and wellness, community impact work and financial stability.”
The regional council reports directly to the United Way of Greater Houston board of trustees for a stamp of approval for the dollars.
“They’ve never rejected an investment recommendation from their centers,” Thoms-Knox said.