With the introduction of United Way of Southern Nevada's 2016-2021 Strategic Plan, five organizational values have been identified to help shape our work. In a new series of blog posts, United Way staff members share these values and what they mean to them. Our Vice President of Finance, John Johnson ("JJ") shares our first value, integrity, and how it plays a role in his day to day work.
As United Way of Southern Nevada’s Vice President of Finance, I have dedicated 16 years of my career with UWSN, helping to achieve the highest levels of fiscal accountability. It is critical that donors understand that when they contribute to UWSN, their donations are used efficiently and effectively. As many donors assign donations to other non-profits through UWSN, it is also vital that donors know their designations will be sent to the intended agencies in a timely manner.
We have measures in place that make certain we are accountable to ourselves, to our donors and to those we continue to help. We are committed to continuing transparency and integrity. These are ideas we take seriously, ideas we live by. Integrity is more than honor and honesty. In our world, integrity is putting together procedures and operations that create a solid structure. A structure that holds up against the pressures and uncertainties of what can be a volatile marketplace.
A major fiscal test for us was during the economical downturn in 2007-2008. Companies around us were forced to downsize or close their doors. The greatest struggle in decreasing our costs was reducing our staff by 20%. This was a challenge met by all of us with hard work despite reduced resources. It was imperative that UWSN keep operating costs down, both then and now, as this allows for a higher percentage of our funds to be used to support community programs and improvements. Through the ups and downs I have had the opportunity to work with an amazing group of people whom I regard with a profound respect, both my co-workers and our Board Finance Committee. Together we have set high standards for efficiency, integrity and transparency and we all do our best to meet them.
Since our local beginning more than 59 years ago, the accountability models of United Way of Southern Nevada have been based upon these standards. To operate under the umbrella of “United Way,” members must adhere to very strict membership requirements, including United Way Worldwide’s Standards of Excellence. These standards require participating United Ways to submit a detailed self-assessment biannually and detailed revenue and expense information yearly, plus an annual certification to very strict legal, governance, trademark, ethics, reporting, designation fee, and audit requirements.
United Way of Southern Nevada (UWSN) is committed to exemplary stewardship of donor funds. A local volunteer board of directors whose members are respected community and business leaders governs UWSN. Each year, a volunteer-led finance committee comprised of CPAs, bankers and corporate leaders review the annual budget and internal operational procedures. In addition, on an annual basis, an independent certified public accounting firm conducts an audit in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards. Every year, the audit confirms UWSN is in compliance and void of material weaknesses with regard to internal controls, which is the highest rating possible. We are committed to the highest levels of professionalism and transparency in everything we do.