FAQs

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What does United Way do?

Q: How is United Way different?

Q: Why give to United Way vs. individual charity?

Q: Where does the money go?

Q: Why doesn't United Way provide direct assistance?

Q: What percentage of donations goes to programs?

Q: How do designations work?

Q: What does United Way do? 

United Way works to improve lives and community conditions by bringing people and resources together to focus on the local issues that matter most. We operate by the philosophy that together, united, we accomplish far more than any individual or single agency could achieve alone. United Way taps into the collective power of personal giving, corporate participation, expertise in the delivery of human services, the passion of volunteers and the work of like-minded organizations.

United Way tends to be most visible during its annual fundraising campaign. However, United Way is active year-round studying community needs and directing resources to where they will accomplish the greatest benefit...in changed lives and stronger communities. Our focus is on education, income, health and people's ability to meet their basic needs. These are the building blocks everyone needs for a good quality of life, and they are the cornerstones of a strong and prosperous community.

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Q: How is United Way different?

We look at the spectrum of issues and needs that affect individuals, families and communities in the Greater Capital Region. Our strategy is to locate and mobilize resources, and align them for impact. Instead of having small pockets of money and effort scattered across a broad swath of need, United Way ensures that resources are targeted strategically to achieve the most powerful results in the critical areas of Education, Income, Health and Basic Needs. United Way occupies a unique philanthropic niche by considering the total picture of what it takes for people to succeed and communities to prosper. We focus on long term solutions while we help highly-effective human service programs meet immediate needs.

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Q: Why should I give to United Way when I can give directly to an individual charity?

  1. The issues facing our community are complex and connected. Academic failure, a family’s inability to meet basic needs, and health concerns are often related. United Way Community Care dollars support a portfolio of high-performing programs that, together, change lives and community conditions at a deep and lasting level. When you donate to United Way of the Greater Capital Region's Community Care Fund, you contribute to the strength and future of our community.
     
  2. United Way’s work centers on helping people gain access to the building blocks for a good quality of life, which research and practice has shown to be EDUCATION that leads to gainful employment, INCOME to meet basic needs and support a family through retirement, resources to achieve good HEALTH and the ability to meet one's BASIC NEEDS for food, shelter and safety.
     
  3. United Way’s focus on early intervention prevents problems from reaching the level of acute need, which often requires repeated and expensive treatment. It’s the difference between spending annually to add beds to homeless shelters and investing strategically to reduce the underlying conditions that lead to homelessness.
     
  4. Programs that receive United Way Community Care dollars are reviewed for effectiveness and financial efficiency by trained community volunteers who know our region and are committed to improving the local quality of life. United Way monitors the performance of funded programs so donors are assured the strongest return on their charitable dollar.
     
  5. United, we can accomplish far more than any individual or single agency could achieve alone.  When you give to United Way, your dollars are pooled with the investments of individuals across the Capital Region to have a powerful and concentrated impact on the local issues that affect all of us.
     
  6. United Way leverages your contribution to make a greater impact by combining it with volunteer efforts, advocacy and best practices – all focused on community priorities. United Way’s unique position allows us to work across traditional boundaries between the private, non-profit and public sectors so that we’re able to multiply the results of your charitable dollar.

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Q: Where does the money go?

United Way Community Care Fund dollars are invested strategically in more than 80 local programs and special initiatives representing approximately 50 agencies. You can view a list of these programs here. United Way also directs contributions to partner agencies and other human service organizations, locally and across the country, through direct designations.

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Q: I am a United Way donor. So why can’t I get assistance directly from United Way?

United Way of the Greater Capital Region gathers and invests resources to strengthen local human services that offer direct help to people in need. United Way does not directly serve individual clients. Through our history, we have found this unique support role to be the most effective and efficient way for donors, human service agencies and United Way to work together to change lives and community conditions. United Way supports local agencies by issuing grants, monitoring results, offering technical assistance, mobilizing volunteers and creating strategies to make lasting improvements in people’s lives and the community.

People seeking direct services are encouraged to call United Way 2-1-1, which is an information and referral service that can connect people with local agencies that provide assistance to individuals and families in need. United Way 2-1-1 is supported by contributions from United Way donors. Many of the agencies in the 2-1-1 database receive United Way support and are better equipped to carry out their critical work thanks to United Way. 

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Q: What percentage of the money I give to United Way goes to local programs?

United Way of the Greater Capital Region’s overhead expenses for the year ending June 2014 are 19 percent. This includes all campaign supplies and expenses, year-round community planning, year-round community service and agency relations, as well as year-round billing and collection of pledges. That means more than 80 cents of each donated dollar goes to local programs. This is far more efficient than the 35 percent threshold endorsed by the Better Business Bureau and the Nation Charities Information Bureau. One reason we’re able to keep campaign expenses so low is that United Way is able to utilize more than 900 volunteers annually to assist with everything from fundraising, to community planning, to hands-on projects that directly benefit local agencies.

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Q: How do United Way designations work?

United Way honors a donor's choice to designate to a specific charity. Gifts to United Way partner agencies are treated as the "first dollars" toward that agency's annual grant allocation. United Way supplements these dollars with funds given directly to United Way to complete the agency's total annual allocation. In the event that the total of these designated gifts exceed a particular agency's annual allocation, the agency will receive the larger amount. A contribution can also be made to another United Way, or a specific 501(c)(3) (nonprofit) health and human service organization. Recipient organizations outside of United Way of the Greater Capital Region's partner agencies are not subject to United Way's accountability review. If you designate your gift, a nominal cost recovery fee will apply.

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