Frequently Asked Questions About United Way
Through a vast network of area-wide contributors, volunteers and charitable agencies, local United Way organizations throughout America help meet the health and human-care needs of millions of people everyday. United Way's 100-plus year history is built on the proven effectiveness of local organizations helping people in their own communities.
- What is the United Way?
The United Way was created so contributors would have a means to pool their donations with others and obtain effective community-wide results from the money they donate. No outside groups or agencies have any form of input or control over the finances of the United Way.
Our United Way is totally governed by individuals living and working in this community, who oversee all the functions of the organization.
United Way Worldwide is not a "parent" organization - each United Way is autonomous. United Way Worldwide is a service organization formed over fifty years after the first United Way was founded. Local United Ways buy services from United Way Worldwide.
- How are the United Way dollars used?
Based on decisions by local contributors, following personal interviews, money in the pool is distributed to respected and accountable non-profit human service agencies in our community, who are operating with a non-paid Board of Directors.
These agencies provide services to each of us and our families on a daily basis - such as the scouting programs, elderly services, the help provided for physically and mentally challenged citizens, alcohol and drug addiction counseling, along with many other needed services.
Apart from Government, United Way funded agencies in local communities help more people than any other entities. United Way exists because people want to be able to help others within their local communities, where they live and work.
- Will my contribution go to people abusing the system, who refuse to help themselves?
Local volunteers are extremely cautious to carefully screen the potential for system abusers or those wanting help, when they could be helping themselves. This is closely analyzed annually by United Way volunteers, along with the types of financial assistance and service programs being provided by applicant agencies. No one wants to be taken advantage of by anyone undeserving.
- Who decides where the United Way pool of dollars goes?
United Way volunteers do. Contributors often express that they feel reassured in giving through the United Way, because they do not need to do a great deal of personal research into finding qualified organizations. Contributors want their funds to help people; and they can depend on volunteers they know and trust to oversee how the pooled money in our community is distributed to accountable agencies.
- There are too many fund-raising campaigns, how can I give to them all?
That is one of the reasons why volunteers and contributors formed the United Way in our community - and made it an annual event to help many agencies, who in turn can help many people. This collective annual effort, to do a United Way Campaign each year, eliminates numerous agencies doing fund-raising. It is hoped that people can budget for the annual fund-raising events they know about, such as the United Way Campaign.
- How do I determine how much to give?
Any size contribution is very much appreciated and welcome - individuals should give what they feel they can afford. Most companies will offer the option of payroll deduction. Setting aside a small amount every two weeks can make a donation possible, when it may seem like we cannot afford any amount.
Contributors express gratification in knowing that should family members or close friends need assistance someday, they have been a part of supporting agencies in our community that will be there when they are needed. Many of us remember the years when we endured flooding on the Mississippi River or have had a home fire and the difference it made to have human service agencies functioning in our area.
- What if I do not want my donation going to a certain agency?
A listing of who is approved to receive United Way funding is public and is always printed in the handouts used during the Annual United Way Campaign. If you have a personal objection to a specific agency receiving United Way funding, it is recommended you then designate your contribution to those you do support. This won't eliminate your participation and will fulfill your personal wishes on how you want your donation used. This option is available by stating it on the pledge card.
- Are any of the United Way donations used for lunches, meals or volunteer reimbursements?
No. None. The volunteers contribute all of their time, talents and resources without any reimbursement. The only expenses covered with United Way dollars are operational costs to secure employees to do the work for the organization and for materials used in the annual campaigns. Luncheons or meetings are paid for by the volunteers or sponsored by local businesses.
- What if my husband or wife gives at their place of employment for both of us?
This is commendable - and should be stated when you are asked to support United Way. It does work well for people to give and support their individual company's annual United Way effort. If you are contributing together or want to both give at your place of work, this is something that most individuals agree upon between themselves and their spouses.
- It is my choice to give to my church, why would I also donate to United Way?
Often, people do not realize that denominational organizations refer people from within their congregations to the local human service agencies supported by community United Way contributions.
Local churches often experience situations that require help with the homeless, domestic violence cases, family counseling needs, the transient, etc. These are areas that the local human service agencies have the ability to address with professional staff.
- Why is it that sometimes people say they could not get needed services?
Everyone helped is treated as an individual case. They are interviewed and assisted based on professional assessments. If for some reason someone has been refused help and it is felt to be unfair, we as contributors have a responsibility to report this to United Way. It will then be checked on and responded to by a United Way Staff Member and/or volunteer. A matter of this nature, known to be factual, should be taken very seriously and reported.
- If I do not live in Des Moines County, why would I support the United Way?
United Way agencies provide services in a 40-mile radius of the Burlington/West Burlington communities. Also, if you are making a living through a company in Des Moines County, the existence of future employment weighs heavily on how effective human services agencies meet the needs of local people and the companies they are employed with.
Contributors can join their employer and other employees by being a part of the United Way Campaign in our community.
Burlington/West Burlington Area United Way, Inc.
218 North 3rd Street, Suite 217
Burlington, Iowa 52601
Phone (319) 752-7831
Fax (319) 752-5227