Cowley County United Way directors have decided to merge with United Way of the Plains to improve the local organization’s ability to meet local needs.

“Cowley County United Way is excited for the merger with United Way of the Plains and what that will mean for our local agencies and Cowley County as a whole,” board chair Elaine Phillips, trust administrator at RCB Bank said. “United Way of the Plains is a professional and experienced organization that will provide excellent support and strengthen fundraising for our agencies. Likewise, United Way of the Plains has strong controls in place that will ensure that funds raised in Cowley County will go to Cowley County agencies and programs.” 

Phillips said the local organization is all-volunteer. “And we have found that it has become increasingly difficult to find volunteers to serve and few of the volunteers participating felt personally qualified as fundraisers.” Contributions have also continued to decline each year, and the Cowley County board believes United Way of the Plains will help them increase collections.

The merger will be completed Dec. 1.

“This merger will strengthen services to the people of Cowley County through enhanced fundraising and other direct services,” Patrick J. Hanrahan, President & CEO, United Way of the Plains said. 

“United Way prides itself on local community involvement and that will be the cornerstone of this new relationship.”

How the merger will work:

• The Cowley County United Way will select an individual to serve on the United Way of the Plains board of directors.

• A Cowley County Advisory Council will be formed from current Cowley County United Way board members and residents of Cowley County. The Advisory Council will assist in determining funding of nonprofit programs in Cowley County.

• Funds raised in Cowley County will be used to fund nonprofit programs in Cowley County.


Even before a merger, United Way of the Plains has provided and will continue to provide services that have benefited Cowley County residents:

• Funding nonprofit programs: community volunteers annually distribute donated funds to nonprofits. In 2018, $121,578 was distributed to United Way of the Plains partner agencies that served Cowley County residents 1,626 times.

• 2-1-1: Information and referral service to find help or volunteer. Individuals can dial 2-1-1 to talk with a call specialist, search online at or text their ZIP code to 898-211. 2-1-1 handled 317 calls from Cowley County residents.

• Give Items of Value program (GIV): accepts donated items from companies and offers them at no charge to nonprofits. The GIV program will be opened up to Cowley County nonprofits after the merger.

• Volunteer Center: connects individuals and private or company groups with volunteer opportunities. The center’s activities will be open to residents and companies in Cowley County.

• Free income tax preparation: coordinates trained volunteers certified by the IRS to prepare income tax returns for mid-to-low income individuals. The program prepared tax returns for 357 Cowley County residents.

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